Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) presents An Evening with Troy Colt Bands
The Troy High School Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble, Flute Choir, Saxophone Choir
Brian P. Nutting, Director; Jeff Krum, Assistant Director
Guests: Marcus Elliot, Jazz Artist-in-Residence; Amanda Sabelhaus, Piano; Albert Gonzales, “The Royal Piper,” Bagpipes; Members of the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble: Brooke Mainland, Rachel Pawson, Dan Wentowrth, Katie Wiley
Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, New York, NY
March 24, 2017
I must confess that the prospect of an entire evening of high school band music had me less than optimistic. However, I happily report that the enthusiasm, artistry, leadership, and overall excellence of these players from Troy, Michigan convinced me of the error of my prejudice. Clearly, the community and the school administration support music, a fact that was made explicit in engaging patter by their excellent conductor, Brian P. Nutting. This message is more vital than ever in the political climate in which we find ourselves.
The Troy Jazz Ensemble kicked off this full evening with a bang in an arrangement of Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind. If the percussion was a bit too loud, blame it on youthful enthusiasm. The arrangement of the 1930 standard Body and Soul was superb, with the added treat of Marcus Elliot’s authentically bluesy tenor saxophone solo. The two vocal soloists in Gershwin’s 1937 tune Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off (Lindsay Nichols and Kulin Oak) were absolutely delightful, singing with a wit beyond their years. Jeff Bunnell’s Ten Brothers was great as well; you could see that all the players were truly enjoying themselves.
The flute choir followed, with a clever medley of melodies from Viennese waltzes by Emil Waldteufel, given the punning name of Forest Devil Waltzes.
Then the Troy Concert Band took the stage with Sedona by Steven Reineke, a boilerplate piece, but one that showed the excellence of the winds to great advantage. Jay Dawson’s arrangement of Amazing Grace was offered as a solace to those affected by 9/11 (some of the band had sight-seen the memorial earlier), with added authenticity provided by former NYPD officer Albert Gonzales on the traditional bagpipes. Warren Barker’s New York 1927 and Randall Standridge’s Ruckus provided a stirring close to the group, with the latter sounding more like “raucous” (but intended that way). Sometimes the full bands made too much sound for the small confines of Alice Tully Hall.
These programs are always generous, one might uncharitably complain “too” generous, and they involve a lot of what I call “furniture moving” as the different formations set up. I wish DCINY could figure out a way to streamline this even more, though their attention to detail and logistics is impressive.
The saxophone choir played a fascinating work by one of their own students, senior Tyler Bouque. He created a sort of depiction of sights possible to see in New York City by traveling on the “blue” line as he calls it. In his 9/11 section (fourth of five) he achieved a sort of Coplandesque grandeur, which I mean as a very high compliment. I do hope he didn’t have to pay royalties to John Kander for the quote from New York, New York in the finale. Remarkable work, I hope he continues to love music and create it.
After intermission, the Troy Symphonic Band had their turn, with a good performance of Alfred Reed’s Symphony No. 3 (first movement), whose opening portentous tympani strokes seem to reference Brahms’ First Symphony, but without the rigor. Then an extraordinary student, Karthik Ganapathy, played the marimba by himself in a beautiful Prelude by Ney Rosauro. The piece quotes various stock flamenco materials (one that is heard in Albeniz’ Asturias). He drew every possible color from the instrument, with great flair and ease. Leonard Bernstein’s third dance episode from On the Town was given a brash, stylish, exciting reading; it was a pleasure to hear really “great” music. The evening concluded with a multi-media spectacular: four members of the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble performed to the band’s rendition of Danzón No. 2 by Arturo Marquez, with its Cuban/Mexican/Puerto Rican fusion. The sole male dancer was kept busy partnering the three women, and they were all excellent. The proud parents and friends in the audience leapt to their feet for a well-deserved ovation.