If the temperature in the MHS auditorium Tuesday night was reflective of the talent level of the Morgan High and Morgan Middle School bands, “hot” would be the only word to describe these groups! Powering through number after number, Chad McLean’s bands each presented excellent music that showcased the abilities of the young musicians and their many hours of dedicated practice to improve their craft.
“I was very proud of all my groups tonight,” Director McLean shared. “They’ve have worked hard on some music that has really challenged them, and they’ve grown a lot as a result. It’s always exhausting putting on combined concerts with so many students, but I always leave feeling energized and grateful to my students for giving me their all.”
“Pails in Comparison,” the introductory number by the MMS Percussion Ensemble on their five-gallon plastic “pails” opened the evening with its up-tempo, high energy beat. The twenty plus percussionists stretched across the stage in a performance that truly did not “pale in comparison” to the other numbers but set a high standard for those to follow.
The “Apollo Fanfare” by the MMS Beginning Band picked up right where the percussionists left off with a lively fanfare that showcased the strengths of the younger band. The second selection, “The Tempest,” opened with the clarinets featured and included a saxophone interlude as the music swelled to mirror the building tempest before ending on a peaceful note.
To the delight of the “older” members of the audience, the 8th Grade Band opened with Raider’s March from Raiders of the Lost Ark and followed with another cinema favorite from the same period, The Man from Snowy River. Emma Payne played a trumpet solo in the Raider’s March while the entire band conveyed the soaring, expanse of the Australian wilderness in The Man from Snowy River. The familiar tunes resonated with the audience as many were seen nodding along.
For their final piece, the 8th Grade Band performed “The Great Locomotive Chase,” a programmatic piece, telling the story of how Northern Spies stole a Southern Locomotive during the Civil War. The delightful piece, full of fun, original train sounds, featured several solos and entertained the audience with the story through song.
Taking the stage following the 8th grade band, the MHS Jazz Band continued to heat up the program with their opening number “Café Caliente.” Featuring Nadia Sharp on the saxophone, Bryant Johnson on the trumpet and Ethan Dougherty on the drums, this exciting, Latin piece perfectly exhibited the group’s talent and abilities. Next, the group performed a jazz ballad, “Come Rain or Come Shine,” with Kelsey Karren opening with a trumpet solo.
For their final selection, the Jazz Band played a traditional New Orleans-style jazz number, “The Mudbug Strut,” that had every toe tapping in the house. Joining the band for this number were soloists Connor McLean on the tuba and Cameron Brook on the clarinet. Miles Barney, trombone; Bryant Johnson, trumpet; and Nadia Sharp, saxophone, also soloed in this challenging and delightfully-presented selection.
The final two groups performed music from a relatively new genre: video game music. The MHS Percussion Ensemble threw back to Super Mario Brothers and the “Theme from Mortal Kombat” while the Symphonic Band played “The Legend of Zelda” and “Video Games Live, Pt. 1” which included music from the games Halo, Civilization and Kingdom Hearts.
“The Legend of Zelda” featured several soloists: Tiffany Chappell, flute; Paul Clayton, saxophone; Makenzie Logdson, flute; and Braeden Larsen, trumpet. The strong, vibrant presentation of Zelda exposed the talent of the band as solos blended seamlessly with the overall band to produce a thrilling journey through the levels of Zelda.
In the final number, Halo opened with a commanding tone and continued to crescendo throughout the section before rescinding at the close. Civilization offered a more sedate and mournful accompaniment before building to a strong conclusion as if the task was accomplished, and the civilization was built. Kingdom Hearts included a repeating motif that included the entire ensemble throughout the piece. It rose to a resounding conclusion that ended the night of a high note.
The Symphonic Band showed excellent talent and control in both of their pieces and thrilled those in the audience who are fans of these games.