The School of Music has a new director at the helm. With the retirement of Professor Reynolds last semester, the University sought a qualified candidate to lead the School of Music. The search ended with the hiring of Michael Haithcock, formerly the Director of Bands at Baylor University. He now holds the job that only two men have held in the last 80 years: The Director of Bands. He is also a Professor of Music in conducting here at the School of Music. Tomorrow night, Professor Haithcock will make his conducting debut with the Symphony Band at Hill Auditorium.
Professor Haithcock served as the assistant Director of Bands at Baylor from 1978 through 1982 when he was promoted to the Director of Bands. His achievements include the Baylor University Outstanding Creative Artistic Award in recognition of his artistic leadership and accomplishment. He has also published articles on conducting and wind literature.
Since moving to Ann Arbor, Haithcock has found the city to be a “very artistic place that supports the arts.” He compares Baylor”s music program to the University”s curriculum by saying that it is “slightly different from Michigan”s School of Music because of the vast number of high level doctoral students teaching undergraduates.”
The Symphony Band is the highest band for undergraduates within the School of Music. Professor Haithcock has selected five individual pieces that allow the ensemble to show their range of abilities. Although Haithcock confesses he “loves them all for different reasons, just like children,” he took great care in his decision to celebrate the University”s heritage during this Homecoming week.
The program will begin with “La Procesion del Rocio” composed by Joaquin Turina. The piece conjures an image of the procession of Rocio in Seville at the beginning of May. This symphonic poem uses parts of flamenco and insinuations of a recorder player and drummer to invoke images of Rociero people.
The next portion of the program includes the “William Byrd Suite” by Gordon Jacob. Four distinct movements contain about half of Byrd”s original intent. Jacob did not score this suite as arrangements of Byrd”s music. He took them as a basis for his own interpretation of England”s Golden Age of musical creation.
“Fantasy Variations on Gershwin”s Second Prelude” composed by Donald Grantham, follows the original work by Gershwin. Grantham explains that in “Fantasy Variations,” “both of the big tunes in the piece are fully exploited, but they do not appear in recognizable form until near the end.” He uses transitions and cadences to mask the melodies until all the parts are collected and the themes emerge in their original shape.
The band will conclude the concert with “Music for Prague,” by Karel Husa. Not only will the band be showcasing this piece, the composer himself will attend and give a pre-concert lecture on the meanings of the piece in the Kessler Room of the Union at 7 p.m. prior to the concert. Born in Prague, Husa wrote this piece to describe his feelings and fears for his family when the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. The piece stands as a tribute to the Prague he loved. The Symphony Band finishes their performance with this piece in order to honor Husa and celebrate his 80th birthday