On Monday, Oct. 23, the Morgan High School and Morgan Middle School bands presented their annual fall concert complete with spooky music, costumed musicians and none other than Doctor Who leading the closing selection.
“Raspberry Sherbet,” an original percussion arrangement composed by Morgan Band Director Chad McLean for five-gallon bucket and PVC pipe opened the evening on a sweet note. The Middle School percussion ensemble entertained the audience with this inventive selection, showing just how creative students and a director can get with household buckets that still smell like the raspberry filling they once contained.
The Beginning Band, composed mainly of seventh graders, followed the sweet treat with some “tricky” music to set the mood for the evening. The young musicians presented “Midnight Mission” and “Temple of Darkness” in a manner that belied the fact that most of them only began playing their instruments just over two months ago.
Demonstrating what one more year of practice can produce, the Advanced Band commenced with a fun, expressive piece, “Monster Under the Bed” shadowed by “Ghost Lights”—a selection recalling mysterious lights on the Brown Mountains of North Carolina. The eerie echoes of the sound hoses added intrigue to the traditional instruments in this piece. The Advanced Band ended with a preview of their number, “Call to Heroes,” that will be presented at the annual Morgan Middle School Veteran’s Day assembly. Band members sat a little straighter in their chairs and played with gusto worthy to celebrate those whom they will honor for serving their country.
More treats and a few tricks were in store for the audience as the MHS Jazz Band took the stage to entertain with their first number, “Another Zydobeto.” Featuring Nadia Sharp on the alto saxophone, Bryant Johnson on the trumpet, and Ethan Dorrity on the drums, this piece demonstrated the overall talent of the band while featuring the soloists. Next, Kelsey Karren crooned the Nat King Cole/Irving Mills classic, “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” accompanied by the jazz band. For the next selection, “Black Coffee,” Karren displayed her versatility by soloing on the trumpet along with Mason Ralls. “Black Coffee” recalled many traditional Jazz riffs that had the audience tapping their toes and feeling like they were in New Orleans.
As the Jazz Band exited and the MHS Percussion Ensemble entered, attention shifted from the intimate jazz atmosphere to the full stage view containing the variety of percussion instruments. Continuing the holiday theme, the percussionists launched their program with the theme from the Michael Myers movie, Halloween. Featuring a constant xylophone undertone, the Halloween theme set a spooky tone and properly prepared the audience for the upcoming holiday. Next, four percussionists took the stage to perform Jonathon Ovalle’s “Danza Furioso” for the xylophone and marimba. Mallets flew as the talented musicians executed, according to Director McLean, “a ripper of a xylophone and mallet piece.” Ethan Dorrity soloed on the xylophone in a piece in which Ovalle “sought to combine the melodic energy of a work like Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No. 5 with the fervor of traditional Guatemalan and Mexican marimba.” The percussion ensemble closed with a traditional rendition of the “Can-Can” featuring Leo Craven on the xylophone.
As the concluding group, the MHS Symphonic Band did not disappoint; they showcased the best instrumental music talent Morgan High has to offer. With their opening toe-tapping selection, “American Barndance,” the Symphonic Band displayed nuanced, mature talent in their sound and expression. Their eerie, forlorn penultimate number, “Nevermore,” based on Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven,” opened with a piano solo by Leo Craven and also featured solos by Meagan Durrant, alto saxophone; and Colton Huntington, bass clarinet. The music mirrored the emotions of the man who descends into chaos as the raven confuses him by only answering “Nevermore.”
After a minor costume change, Mr. McLean appeared as “the Doctor” from Doctor Who to conduct the final number, “Doctor Who: Through Time and Space.” In this piece Addy Romero adeptly soloed on the flute with Meagan Durrant adding another alto saxophone solo. A variety of instruments shared the spotlight as the band enthusiastically explored Doctor Who’s musical themes along with “the alien monsters, Cybermen and Daleks, and also memorable companion themes for Rose and Martha.” It was a fitting end for a fall concert that provided a “spooktacular” evening of entertainment.