The SUNY Plattsburgh Symphonic Band hosted British Band Classics Thursday night, showcasing popular arrangements from a variety of British composers.
The concert was held in the E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium in Hawkins Hall and was directed by Professor of Music Daniel Gordon. Among the British classics were arrangements from composers like Percy Grainger, Gustav Holst, Vaughan Williams, Gordon Jacob and Malcolm Arnold.
Plattsburgh native and self-described classical music nut Devin O’Connell said this was his first time seeing the SUNY Plattsburgh Symphonic Band, but for such a small symphony, he was impressed.
“Because of my work schedule, I don’t get time to go out and see a lot of classical music,” O’Connell said, “but tonight worked out, and I like what I’ve heard so far. It helped that it was a free event and open to the public.”
After the intermission, but before the second act, Gordon took time to tell the audience about a scholarship that is now being offered.
“A beautiful thing happened to the college symphonic band this semester. That was, that we got an endowment,” Gordon said. “Somebody gave us a lot of money for the purpose of using it for this course.”
There’s an endowment that’s attached to the scholarship, meaning that it will go on in perpetuity for as long the symphonic band exists. The scholarship started this semester.
The only requirements are the student has to be able to read music, play a percussion or a wind instrument and must be registered in the course to receive the scholarship. No audition is required to join the symphonic band.
The scholarship is open to all students regardless of discipline or major. The symphonic band consists of music students as well as students from every discipline across campus, including chemistry, business, English, nursing and communication majors.
“It’s a wonderful way for people to meet others across the campus with a common interest but different majors, and there’s also a number of community members in the ensemble,” Gordon said. “What we wanted to do was reward the people who are in it for their contribution to the ensemble, and to encourage others to join.”
The symphonic band hosts a concert once a semester. Gordon said in recent years he tried to attach a theme to each concert.
“I believe the music has more meaning when you have some type of context for it,” Gordon said. “If we play a collection of pieces, that’s one thing, but when you have a theme that goes along, you think of the meaning behind the piece of music, and what it’s supposed to be saying.”
For example, the symphonic band did a John F. Kennedy-themed concert on the 50th anniversary of his assassination Nov. 22, 2013.
“It was one of the most powerful concerts that I’ve ever been a part of,” Gordon said. “It was so quiet and so powerful in that hall, you could actually hear people weeping.”
Although he tries to do as many different, but appropriate themes as possible, Gordon said a British band concert is always a popular one among symphonies.
“It’s like bringing brownies to a potluck dinner. They never miss,” Gordon said. “If you want to put on a successful concert, you play British band classics,”
Although Gordon isn’t sure what is next for the symphonic band in the spring, he urges everyone to consider joining the band.
“Playing in a band doesn’t have to end at high school graduation. You can continue doing it in college, and not only could you continue doing it, but you can get a scholarship for doing it,” Gordon said. “Here’s an opportunity to make use of those skills you spent all those years developing. Enjoy yourself. Add a new dimension to your studies. Contribute to the cultural life in Plattsburgh and to the campus, and get a scholarship to boot. What can be better than that?”