Review: Pops Wind Symphony Concert Was A Blast from the Past

The Gettysburg College Wind Symphony (Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

The Gettysburg College Wind Symphony (Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

By Alex Pearson, Staff Writer

Blasts from the past filled the stage as the Wind Symphony entered. The performers were wearing shirts from various bands and time periods. The lighting and the costumes brought back memories of high ponytails, poodle skirts, and discos. Dr. Russell McCutcheon started the show with a fun announcement and then we were off to the races!

‘Now and Today (Radioactive)’ started the show. The song had great dynamic changes and the Wind Symphony was very in sync. After Now and Today, there was a station/channel change. McCutcheon grooved out and looked like he was having the time of his life. The light changed and ‘Disco Forever’ (‘Dance Fever-Reunited’, ‘You Should Be Dancing’, ‘Boogie Fever’, ‘That’s the Way (I Like It)’, and ‘Y.M.C.A.’) began.

‘Disco Forever’ was very fun. The medley had great teamwork and Wind Symphony really grooved. The songs were accompanied by light changes. There were awesome tempo and song changes. Flashing lights accompanied ‘That’s the Way (I Like It)’ and the song really embodied disco. ‘YMCA ‘was awesome and the audience had a great time dancing to ‘YMCA.’ There was a station/channel change to Sunderman Stories. We heard Rebecca Hotz ’21 share the story of her connection to the bassoon. It was really touching and fun. After her story, the station/channel changed and it was time to listen to some ‘80s.

‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ was the ‘80s throwback. The song had awesome growth and dynamic changes. There was a neat division of higher and lower parts. There were terrific harmonies and the audience had fun singing along. There was a weather report and flu warnings after the ‘80s throwback and then there was a station/channel change.

Sunderman Stories came next and we heard from clarinetist Brooke Maskin ’20. Her story was powerful and fun. After Brooke’s story, there was another station/channel change. It was now time for some hip hop. There was radio music and the lights were funky. The group danced and jammed out. It was very comical to watch. After that, the station/channel changed again.

The classical channel (Octet in E-Flat Major, Op. 103) was next. The Chamber Winds did a beautiful rendition of Beethoven’s Octet. McCutcheon performed a rapid-fire costume change from ‘80s wear to a tuxedo. The song was fluid and light. It had awesome staccatos and beautiful legato lines.

After the song, Sunderman Stories came on and hornist Jeremy Porter ’20 shared. His story was happy, uplifting, and talked about support. After his story, there was a channel/station change and we heard sports news. Abel Rose ’21 told a very funny (and not true) story about throwing his tuba. Then, there was a quick break to tell the audience to call in and McCutcheon came back out in his original costume.

Up next was Classic Rock (Led Zeppelin On Tour-Rock and Roll, ‘Immigrant Song’, ‘Black Dog’, ‘Kashmir’, and ‘Stairway to Heaven’). The medley was super tight and Wind Symphony jammed out. The medley had solid rhythms and really moved. ‘Immigrant Song’ made the audience think of a spy movie. It was very fun and had great dynamic changes.

‘Black Dog’ was also very fun and had great tempos. It was a spot-on rendition. ‘Kashmir’ had a lovely legato line and was very jazzy. It had a spy movie feel and had great dynamic changes. It felt like a dance party. ‘Stairway to Heaven’ had beautiful legato lines and wonderful crescendos. Pat Peters’ (’20) trumpet solo was beautiful and emotional. The ensemble had great teamwork and really told a story. The piece had awesome dynamic changes and Pat’s solo ended the medley beautifully.

After the medley, the audience’s energy was very high. Caller # 9 was brought up on stage. Sarah from Gettysburg was caller number nine, and she received Bullets paraphernalia. After that, there was a channel/station change. A fake advertisement recorded by Karl Segletes ’18 talked about triangles and made the audience giggle.

Next up was 70’s Superstars (Stevie Wonder in Concert-’Sir Duke’, ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life’, ‘I Wish’, and ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours’). ‘Sir Duke’ was so much fun. The ensemble really grooved and dug into fast rhythms. ‘You are the Sunshine of My Life’ had a fun climb and scale. It had a beautiful legato line and it swept along. There were awesome dynamic changes.

‘I Wish’ was very jazzy. It built and was very fun. It had great dynamics! ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours’ was very upbeat. Wind Symphony jammed out and had super quick transitions. The ensemble looked like they were having a blast. After that, there was a channel/station change to an announcement about Save the Music.

Jazz Journey (‘Autumn Leaves’) was up next. It was very mysterious sounding at the beginning. It had beautiful, rich tones as well as light tones. The piece set the mood of an old- fashioned movie romance scene. It had engaging dynamic changes and was very intense.

There was a channel/station change to Sunderman Stories after that. Hornist Zachary Rhodes ’21 told his story, which was inspiring. After that there was a channel/station change. We went back to ‘Now and Today’ and heard ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran. The beginning was really solid and had great pace. The song had dynamic changes and the chorus of the song really took us into the core of the song. They did an awesome job! There was a clapping section with the audience and the performers. It was very fun!

There was a channel/station change and Segletes did an ad talking about ATVs and TVs. There was another channel/station change and Sunderman Stories came on once again. Rose Martus ’19 talked about her journey and her connection to her flute, which she chose initially because it fit in her backpack. Her story was uplifting and touching. After Rose’s awesome story, it was time for the 60’s Revolution (‘Can’t Buy Me Love’: The Beatles Medley-’Here Comes the Sun’, ‘In My Life’, and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’).

‘Here Comes the Sun’ had a melodic beginning and then it turned into a jam session. The harmonies were absolutely spectacular and there was a neat give and take among the players. The dynamics were great and the ensemble did a fantastic job.

‘In My Life’ was a little heartbreaking and emotional. The piece was beautiful and sweeping. It had awesome dynamics and great tempo changes. It was very powerful. ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ was a clapping song and a jam session. The piece had awesome dynamics and was very swingy. It grew and grew and had a powerful ending. It looked like Wind Symphony had an awesome time.

There was a channel/station change and jokes were made. Then it was time for 90’s Garage Grunge (‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’). McCutcheon and the group had a blast. The piece was resonant and deep. It had awesome dynamics and the group grooved. The piece had a jam session and then there was a quieter transition and then another jam session. It was very powerful. The concert ended with a reprise of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. It was an amazing concert!

After the concert, Hotz said the planning process was really neat. She emphasized the team power behind the process and said she was concerned about them pulling it off but they did, which shows that student-run stuff can really work and that it was really fun.

Hotz said that the music was so out of the box and that it was a fun change. She said the bassoon was acoustically adaptive. Hotz said that she listened to originals of the songs to emulate style and sound. She said it was interesting to try to sound like Ed Sheeran in ‘Shape of You’. Hotz said, “I usually play the bassoon as a bassoon. I don’t normally play the bassoon while trying to sound like Ed Sheeran.”

Hotz wore a Panic at the Disco t-shirt and talked about how the producers decided on the dress code. She talked about how for the Sunderman story, she word dumped and tried to make it as profound as possible. Hotz said, “I love the bassoon with everything I’ve got.”

Melanie Greenberg ’20, one of the concert producers, said the idea of a changing radio (which may have originated because McCutcheon used to be a radio disc jockey) was the initial idea for the concert, and it stuck. She said she edited bits, soundbites etc., went through the script, made assignments, and made recordings. She and her co-producer, Bethany Frankel ’20 made sure everything flowed.

The entire show came together in three weeks.

“It was something. Something pretty good, Greenberg said. “It was very fulfilling.”

“Live! On Air” was a fabulous concert!

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Author: Alex Pearson

Alex Pearson '21 intends to double major with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with a minor in English focusing on Creative Writing. She intends to join choir as well as get involved in community service and Spanish-related activities. Follow her on Twitter @alexpearsonstar and on Instagram @smilealexpearson.

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