WINONA LAKE — The Grace College Community Wind Ensemble will perform “A Symphonic Journey” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 24 in the Winona Heritage Room, 901 Park Ave, Winona Lake. Advance tickets may be purchased at the Grace College Campus Store (inside the Gordon Recreation Center, 100 Publishers Dr.) and at Pottery Bayou in the Village at Winona. Tickets will also be available at the door.
This will be the Community Wind Ensemble’s last concert directed by Martin Becker, who is retiring. The Grace College Community Wind Ensemble has been under the direction of Becker for the past 15 years. He has conducted band concerts for 49 years, 32 of which have been with the Warsaw Community Schools and Grace College.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Marty for his years of service to the Grace College music program, and his decades of artistic contribution to our community,” said Dr. Bill Katip, president of Grace College & Seminary. “He has left an irreplaceable mark on our campus and community through his love for music and dedication to developing musicians. I hope that families and friends will gather in mass to hear and participate in Marty’s last concert with the Community Wind Ensemble,” he concluded.
Director Martin Becker provided the following description of the upcoming spring concert:
“The band has seventy musicians and the instrumentation is outstanding,” said Martin Becker, director of the Community Wind Ensemble. “It will feature some of the area’s finest musicians. The band is comprised of Grace College students, community members and professional musicians. I am looking forward to the performance and encourage everyone’s attendance; this will be one not to miss,” Becker added.
The performance will open with the “Radetzky March” written by Johann Strauss and arranged by Alfred Reed. It is festive and jubilant march, popular with European audiences. It was first played before an audience of Austrian officers who began clapping their hands and stomping their feet at the beginning of the performance. It is a tradition that continues in Vienna to this day.
The second piece is another popular Strauss composition, “Die Fledermaus.” The piece is widely known and performed around the world. The wind ensemble will perform the overture which features several melodies. The waltz plays a prominent role in this delightful work.
The third piece is “See Rock City.” The classically-American composition fuses elements of rock, jazz and funk styles. All sections of the band will contribute familiar riffs, grooves and melodies throughout the three-part form. The work is inspired by the southeastern United States, specifically Rock City, Georgia. “Whether standing under a waterfall or walking through a cavern full of glowing gnomes, Rock City, like this namesake piece, is pure, simple fun,” said Becker.
The first half of the program will finish with “On the Mall” that takes the audience to Central Park in New York City, NY. The phrase “On the Mall” refers to the mall at the Naumburg Bandshell where Franko Goldman’s band frequently performed in Central Park. In a technique identified with Goldman, the trio is predominantly sung by the band members and then repeated, after a break strain, with whistling. A great believer in public participation, Goldman encouraged audiences to sing and whistle with the band. Likewise, Becker invites the Winona Lake audience to participate in this long-standing tradition.
The second half of the concert will open with “Godzilla Eats Las Vegas.” “The first notes of the piece alert the audience that this will be no ordinary composition,” said Becker. “A manic scream from the full band is distinctly unnerving!” How the story unfolds and ends is both comical and dramatic. The band is called upon for screams and other sound effects. Becker will also provide a hilarious slideshow to help the audience follow the comical chaos. Some cameo appearances of famous icons like Lucille Ball, Donald Duck, Elvis Presley, Wayne Newton, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and other surprises are featured.
“A Symphonic Journey” continues with an arrangement of Broadway tunes composed by Leslie Bricusse, a British lyricist, and his long-time writing partner Anthony Newley. One of their greatest hits was “What Kind of Fool Am I,” for which they won the Grammy Song of the Year in 1962. “Bricusse and Newley on Broadway” was arranged for band by Warren Barker. The medley contains the delightful songs, including “On a Wonderful Day Like Today,” “Who Can I Turn To,” “Gonna Build A Mountain” and “What Kind of Fool Am I.”
For the final selection, Becker has chosen his favorite march, “His Honor,” written in 1933 by Henry Fillmore. Bandmaster Fillmore was the most colorful bandmaster of his time during an era that stretched fifty vibrant years. As a composer, his irrepressible talent for marches produced a string of masterpieces uniquely of his own flavor. Among the most outstanding of them is “His Honor.”