At the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, no band is more competitive for undergraduates than the University Symphony Band, which will be showcasing its talent for the first time this year tonight at Hill Auditorium with four pieces.
University of Michigan Symphony Band
Tonight at 8 p.m.
The show will be conducted by Director of Bands Michael Haithcock, who conducts the symphony band and guides the acclaimed graduate band-and-wind ensemble conducting program. Haithcock, who is only the second person in the last 80 years to hold this position, is coming off a summer during which he conducted the band’s performances across the world.
The band spent the summer on a historic tour of China as a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the band’s travel to the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In 1961, they were chosen, along with the New York Philharmonic, by the U.S. State Department as emissaries at the height of the Cold War.
The band played its tour through China — including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Hangzhou and Xi’an — before traveling to Los Angeles to perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The group was met with praise for its performance and for its embrace of cultural boundaries between the countries.
MT&D senior Alex Akin describes the thought of performing with the famous symphony band as “intimidating.”
“They’re really great,” Akin said. “It’s intimidating going into rehearsal, trying to collaborate with so many people and getting the piece to work. We just came together to produce this great work.”
The band will first perform selections from Mozart’s Serenade No. 10. The piece, composed between 1781 and 1782, consists of seven movements of varying moods and themes.
The second piece in tonight’s performance, Persichetti’s “Divertimento,” was written with Mozart’s work as the basic point of reference. The composition, originally conceived in 1949, consists of six movements and features a vast array of instruments. The third and fourth pieces to be played at the concert are works by University alumni Sydney Hodkinson and Roshanne Etezady. Hodkinson’s “Duae Cantatae Breves” and Etezady’s “Points of Departure” will be played by the band. Before the concert, a lecture will be given by Hodkinson and Etezady, along with Professor Haithcock.
Etezady, who received her doctorate in 2005, is known for her effort in exposing audiences to new music. The performance of her piece will be a departure from the norm because it will showcase the Soprano Soloists the Musical Theatre Department, who will perform in different movements of Etezady’s piece.
“It’s melodically challenging,” said Alex Akin, who will be performing in the second movement. “It’s classical music but it tells a story. The most challenging part of the song was … being musically precise and leaving the song open to interpretation.”