By Stewart Ricker – Student Reporter
Following the snow-plagued final week of October, the PPCC Music Department was faced with the decision of either canceling or postponing their annual Halloween concert.
Department Chair William Malone was doubtful that the ensemble would be able to pull off a Halloween-themed performance four days into November, but when the question was posed to his students, the response he got was: “why not?”
Despite his skepticism, the PPCC community gathered at the downtown studio on the evening of November 4th to celebrate the spirit of the fall season and appreciate all the hard work that the music department had put into their performance.
A talented ensemble of skeletons, scarecrows, pirates, and off-brand cowboys performed a fruitful collection of spooky songs for a packed house.
A number of genres and musical styles were showcased during the performance.
The evening was sparked with a big band tune called “Night Train” written by Jimmy Forrest, which included several solo features from the ensemble. The following selections – “Little Red Monkey” and “Russian Sailor’s Dance” – were performed by a tightly knit flute ensemble consisting of four flutists and a pianist.
Capping the introductory selection of songs, a bone-chilling vocal performance was introduced to the fold, a selection from the Phantom musical entitled “This Place is Mine,” expressively sung by Emily Melgr.
In direct contrast to the previous piece was a composition entitled “Hedwig’s Beer” by John Williams, an interesting amalgamation of rumbling sonics and spooky sound effects performed by the percussion ensemble. The piece featured auxiliary percussion, trash cans, and a familiar rendition of the Harry Potter theme on vibraphone.
Midway through the evening, the focus was shifted back again to the woodwinds section where two song selections were performed by the saxophones. They featured a French piece called “Quartuor – I. Gaiteoise Village” written by Fuastin et Maurice Jeanjean, and a more sinister composition entitled “An Abstract Sense of Light – Cathedral” by Graham Collier.
Following the Saxophone’s performance, several students from combined ensembles gathered together before the audience to perform a choir piece entitled “Magnificent Horses – Fantasy on a Mongolian Folk Tune,” backed by Julie Mynett on flute, Bruce Anderson on sleigh bells, and conducted by Gayle Grace.
Perhaps the most improvisational selections from the setlist, “Hassan’s Dream” by Benny Golson and “Serenade to a Cuckoo” by Rahsaan Roland Kirk were performed by a jazz quintet—unfortunately shortened to a quartet due to a sickly musician—which consisted of drums, piano, stand-up bass, and soprano sax.
“Hassan’s Dream” was littered with Latin-oriented grooves and featured extensive solos by each of the four musicians, while “Serenade to a Cuckoo” followed a similar format of theme-solo-theme played to a light shuffle.
Finally, to close the evening, the spotlight returned to the big band ensemble, which performed a Brazilian themed piece entitled “Black Morpheus/A Day in the Life of a Fool.” Unlike any other piece that had been performed thus far during the evening, “Black Morpheus” brought more to the table than the audience was ready for, including extensive use of Latin percussion, a variety of solo features from various musicians within the ensemble, and a solo vocalist feature.
As the longest and most epic piece of the evening, it was the perfect closer to the post-Halloween, performance, and was met with several minutes of enthusiastic applause.
For those who are looking to catch the next performance by the PPCC music department, or for those who are upset that they missed the last, the next concert will take place this Friday, November 22nd at 7 pm. They are presenting a faculty jazz duo by William Malone and Ed Heller in Room N-214 at the downtown studio campus.
Also, check out the performances to warm up for Thanksgiving next Monday and Tuesday. The PPCC student choirs perform under the direction of Gayle Grace. Catch them at the Centennial Campus Theater, Monday, November 25 at 7:00 pm.
William Malone directs the Jazz Ensemble and Bruce Anderson directs the percussion ensemble in concert at the Centennial Campus Theater Tuesday, November 26 7:00 pm