Sunderman Conservatory Presents “Cornucopia: A Wind Symphony Concert”

By Ainsley Green, Staff Writer

On Nov. 17, the Gettysburg College Wind Symphony performed their last concert of the semester at 8 p.m. at the Majestic Theater in downtown Gettysburg. The program consisted of music written by Sunderman Conservatory professor of music emeritus John William “Buzz” Jones. Jones introduced the repertoire at the beginning of the evening after the Wind Symphony played the lively “Salute to PMEA” by A.D. Davenport, opening the concert under the direction of Russell McCutcheon.

(Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

(Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

“I love band music. Have another round of applause for the band,” Jones proclaimed as the audience excitedly clapped for the Wind Symphony.

He then introduced each piece in the program, briefly describing the history and intention he had while composing them.

“It’s been a joy working with the students, truly,” Jones stated during his remarks. “I think you’ll really enjoy the music, and I hope that the music brings you joy. Enjoy the night!”

The Wind Symphony first performed “For the People,” specially commissioned for the Pennsylvania Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College in 2009. The piece was made up of five movements based on texts from addresses and songs from the Civil War entitled “Overture,” “Recitative,” “Aria,” “Rallying Songs” and “Hymn.” Audience members could refer to their concert programs to follow along with the texts that inspired the music. The piece featured three guest singers from the Sunderman Conservatory staff who recited and sang the texts while the band played the accompaniment: associate professor of voice and soprano Susan Hochmiller, adjunct assistant professor and tenor Jeffrey Fahnestock and adjunct assistant professor and baritone Matthew Osifchin. 

The next piece, entitled “Elegy and Dance,” was dedicated by Jones to the Gettysburg College Wind Symphony and featured Abbey Jemison ’24 on French horn and Sunderman Conservatory adjunct assistant professor Steve Marx on flugelhorn. These instruments had beautiful solos that were intermixed into the piece and were supported by every other member of the band. The flugelhorn and French horn also shared their own duets and isolated melodies within the piece, which featured the most expressive registers of the instruments, according to Jones. The piece was exciting and had many shifts in style and meter throughout.

(Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

(Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

The Wind Symphony left the stage for a short break while the stage was set for a small group of musicians to perform “1916,” which was dedicated to the Aire Duo, Hochmiller and Marx. The piece also featured adjunct assistant professor Aaron Scott on clarinet, Diana Flesner on cello and professor Jocelyn Swigger on piano. The three movements of the piece were each based on their own poems: “Rhapsody” by Florence Earle Coates, “Monotone” by Carl Sandburg and “The Sound of the Trees” by Robert Frost. Jones intended to transfer themes of love and nature from these poems and interpret them musically, and the audience was treated to a wonderful performance where the musicians communicated and brought the meanings of the poems to life.

Director of Bands Russell McCutcheon took the stage before the final piece of the evening.

“I want to say thank you to each and every one of you who came out to support the music that we’re able to share,” McCutcheon said. “I know why the house is full. The house is full because of Buzz Jones.”

McCutcheon acknowledged the composer of every piece of the concert one last time, and he received another round of applause from the theater.

To finish the concert, the Wind Symphony returned to the stage to perform “Swedish Samba,” featuring Chairperson of the Psychics Department Bret Crawford on soprano saxophone, Marx on flugelhorn, George Grund on keyboards, John Pineda on bass and Chris Loser on drums. The piece was commissioned for the Christianson family to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Jerry and Carol Christianson. The piece featured a variety of dance rhythms including the samba, rumba and bossa nova, and the musicians were even joined by dancer Ana Maria Griffin Morimoto ’25 midway through the piece. The piece’s melody was inspired by the Swedish folk song “Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara” to showcase the family’s Swedish heritage, and it ended the concert on a lively note.

The Conservatory’s upcoming events for the rest of the fall semester include the Symphony Orchestra winter concert on Dec. 1 at the Majestic Theater and the Winter Choral Concert on Dec. 2 in Christ Chapel.

Performers at "Cornucopia." (Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

Performers at “Cornucopia.” (Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

(Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

(Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

Dancer Ana Maria Griffin Morimoto ’25 performing during “Swedish Samba." (Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

Dancer Ana Maria Griffin Morimoto ’25 performing during “Swedish Samba.” (Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

Performers at "Cornucopia." (Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

Performers at “Cornucopia.” (Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

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Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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