"Spring-In" concert features "random selection" of songs

On April 2, the Arkansas Valley Community Band held their spring concert at the Ed Stafford Theatre of Otero Junior College.

"The theme of this evening's concert - if it may be called a theme - is random selections," said concert narrator Ed Stafford. Some 37 musicians play in the ensemble, in a balance of brass and woodwinds. The two directors, Kevin Beaber (music educator at Crowley County Schools) and Mark Emery (Pueblo Municipal Band director) took it in turn to conduct.

James Curnow's "Fanfare and Flourishes" began the evening - "bombastic," directed Emery to the band   just before they played. Second up was "Yagi-Bushi," an arrangement for the traditional 'song of eight trees' in Japan.

Further geography was represented, with the third number, "Hatikva (The Hope)" - the national anthem of Israel, with lyrics from an 1878 poem - followed by the "Northwest Suite," a 1983 commission for bands that musically conjures Mount Hood, Victoria Island, and Seattle's Space Needle in its movements.

The band's fifth piece, "Zooveniers," also makes use of suggested visual imagery through the sounds of its distinct movements - brassy elephantine trumpeting is an instant example. After came "Pastorale Setting: Llwyn Onn" - behind the Welsh name is a familar folksong, 'The Ash Grove,' as arranged by contemporary band camp educator Brian Hogg.

For their penultimate number - Emery had assured the ensemble by then that no encore would be done - they played 1957's "Toccata for Band," by Frank Erickson, "known worldwide for his influence" on the  concert band catalogue. Their formal closer was "Malaguena," which as Stafford related is based on a "very familiar Spanish composition played at the corrida, or bullfight."

In a surprise to those on stage, if not to the receptive audience, a ninth number as encore was played after all - John Phillip Sousa's "The Liberty Bell" march, better known to Monty Python fans as the theme from the BBC's Flying Circus.

The band rehearses at 7 p.m. on Monday nights at the music room of Fowler Elementary School - a good central location, as Stafford mentioned, for an ensemble whose members come from far afield. Anyone who has played an instrument is welcome to come and join in.