Oct 072008
Authors: Shayna Grajo

Amid today’s sea of information and digital entanglements, a college student will look to a concert if it involves amped six-string rebellion and the cheapest beers on tap. Or music, if it’s the sort that blares from headphones or muffled computer speakers or the car radio.

But when treated to Tuesday night’s CSU Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble performance, the themed program “Hear the Light!,” about 260 audience members were reminded of the sight and sound of unbridled music – live and uncompressed.

Stumbling into Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center of the Arts were stressed-out students, bright-eyed children and supportive family members bound for a show.

What they received was a synaesthetic experience, for the themed concert was designed to visually as well as musically interpret light connotations in the symphonic compositions. The backdrop of the concert changed in lighting and hue to signify shifts in the music.

“I thought that they would be boring,” said Kori Foster, 13, an eighth grader from the local Cache La Poudre Middle School. “But when I came here, and I saw that they were actually pretty interesting, I liked them.”

The concert marked the first Kori ever attended.

From the first-timers to the jaded connoisseurs who’ve haunted the orchestra from time immemorial, audience members could delight in both fresh sounds and the trite compositional conventions that still work every time.

A crowd favorite, the piece “Bali,” was performed by the Symphonic Band near the start of the concert.

Symphonic Band percussionists and music performance majors Ryan Seyedia, a freshman, and Luke Rose, a sophomore, described “Bali” as their favorite of the night. The piece was inspired by gamelan music, a style native to Indonesia that utilizes a variety of instruments.

For the piece, the percussion section featured exotic sounds through use of gongs, flower pots and aluminum bowls. Strings within the piano were even pinched with bobby pins for the number.

Karen Oxley, a CSU alumna and the coordinator of bands for the department, said she favored both “Bali” and “Fireworks,” which was performed by the Wind Ensemble as the closing number.

For “Fireworks,” the backdrop was a blood-stained red which shifted color subtly throughout the piece. Whirling trills in the woodwinds, full-bodied crescendos and the smoke of percussion captured the music lover’s lust for dynamics. The piece ended with the trite but welcomed explosion chord out of nowhere, leading to a fake-out ending and finally the conductor’s finishing pose: seemingly, a simulation of rigor mortis.

“To me, I thought that it added a sense of warmth and depth to the concert,” Oxley said of the lighting effects.

However, she said, the show’s meat was in the music.

Sophomore music education major Matt Becker, a trumpeter for the Wind Ensemble, said the lighting contrasts helped to draw the sense of a potent and precise performance mentality.

“There’s a fine line between expressing the music and having additional effects to amplify that,” Becker said. “It wasn’t overdone. It was an addition, not a distraction.”

His answer to his favorite aspect of the evening was as timeless as music itself.

“It’s fun to listen to groups, but getting up there and actually performing — that’s where the true adrenaline comes from.”

News Editor Shayna Grajo can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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