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Outdoor concerts in the summer time are an "iffy" affair. Last year we went to the Triangle Brass Band concert scheduled at the Sertoma Amphitheatre in Cary's Bond Park and were greeted by violent thunderstorms and a canceled concert. This year, shifting and threatening clouds hovered overhead at the same venue, but spared the concert. Conductor Tony Granados attributed this to all the wind produced by the brass instruments under the band shell. Sure enough, the only brief drizzle (not enough to raise umbrellas for) fell during award presentations but not during the music.
The Triangle Brass Band is a British-style band based in the Triangle. It is composed of the finest brass and percussion players from across central North Carolina and has been performing at a variety of venues since its formation in 1986. Granados has served as artistic director and conductor from 2008 to the present and has maintained a high level of excellence.
This concert was entitled Picture This!!! and consisted of selections from film and television programs familiar to most in the audience. It opened with a lively arrangement of the Hanna-Barbera and Curtin theme music to The Flintstones. The band's crisp, dynamic playing gave notice that a delightful evening lay ahead.
"A Disney Spectacular," arranged for brass band by Goff Richards, included familiar tunes from Snow White, Mary Poppins, Cinderella and other Disney films. It opened with a flashy fanfare featuring the percussion section, which was outstanding throughout the concert, and the whole range of brass – from double B-flat tuba to soprano cornets. The sounds were varied by the use of a selection of mutes, most of which require exceptional musical skills to maintain proper pitch. All of this was put together into a near-professional level of performance.
"Colors of the Wind" from the Disney movie Pocahontas, demonstrated the warm and mellow sounds of the Triangle Brass and featured the smooth, warm tones of the solo cornet played by principal Lisa Burn.
The Sherman brothers' richly melodic score of Mary Poppins (arranged for brass band by A. Duncan), was one of the most appealing selections of the evening. All sections of the band had an opportunity in this piece to strut their stuff, and they did so with class and panache.
Danny Elfman's theme from the TV cartoon series The Simpsons was performed with the whimsical spirit of the show. And then, with almost a sense of reverence, TBB played a thematic arrangement from John Williams' score for Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, demonstrating once more the rich sonorities that the blended brass can produce in a well-balanced and musically sensitive ensemble such as this one.
Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey put together the original songs for the Broadway show and movie Grease. An arrangement of highlights by Alan Fernie was performed with all the determination and enthusiasm the book portrays.
Quincy Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova," arranged by A. Duncan, was a tribute of sorts to the genius of Jones and all the innovations he brought to film scoring. Evan Atherton, playing an E-flat soprano cornet, was flat-out "in the groove" with his solo work and the band was swinging cool in this jazz masterpiece.
The final piece on the program was "Fanfare and Flying Theme" from E.T. – John Williams at his never-flagging best. The affectionate and ever-rising theme was so thrilling and evocative that you could almost see the bicycle ascending with the moon in the background, and then E.T. heading home in the rescue spaceship. It was a thrilling end to an evening of delightful music.
The audience rose with vigorous applause. In response Granados led TBB in another John Williams sensation as an encore – the "Storm Troopers Theme" from Star Wars. The satisfied audience left the Sertoma Amphitheatre – dry, cool and happy.