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The Hendersonville Community Band presented a lovely "Fall Colors" concert at Blue Ridge Community College's Blue Ridge Conference Hall on Sunday afternoon. With Winford Franklin on the conductor's podium, it was an enjoyable afternoon of musical homages to a myriad of historical events.
Up next was a band music classic, John Barnes Chance's "Variations on a Korean Folk Song." The clarinet section's opening was very artistic, with subtle swells and exceptional phrasing. The distinct variations transitioned very smoothly, and Franklin did a marvelous job leading the ensemble through such a wide variety of musical styles. Overall, the HCB did a very good job with the elucidation and technical demands of this classic band piece. With such a challenging piece of band repertoire, though, came certain challenges. There were a few hitches with phrasing between sections of the ensemble, though they quickly returned to synchronization.
Following "Variations on a Korean Folk Song," the ensemble performed Robert Russell Bennett's transcription of Richard Rodgers' compositions for a television documentary on Naval service during World War II. Victory at Sea Symphonic Scenario is a medley of the twelve brief themes. Listening to this piece, I felt it was almost as if one were watching the documentary itself on a black-and-white television. Bennett's arranging style, along with the Community Band's performance technique, seemed to transport the listeners to a different time. Abrupt transitions between the themes were slightly jarring, but only added to the effect of watching the program. Glockenspiel octaves sprinkled throughout the themes added a shimmery, watery affect to the piece. Toward the climax of the symphonic scenario, ascending chromatic passages in the majority of the ensemble emulated a siren being wound up, and then a jarring crash in the percussion section imitated the effect of a bomb exploding. The HCB delivered a very compelling and chills-inducing performance of this medley.
After the intermission, the Hendersonville Community Band changed gears and performed a jamming arrangement of The Beatles: Echoes of an Era by John Higgins. Following that was a tribute to the assassination of President Kennedy with Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner's "Highlights from Camelot." We were reminded that Jacqueline Kennedy referred to their time in the White House as being in Camelot, one of the president's favorite musicals. This piece featured a very beautiful solo performed by singer (and resident bassoonist) Roberto Flores. A ringing finale between the baritone and ensemble echoed in the hall and received enthusiastic applause.
To close the concert was a chilling presentation of Jerry Bilik's American Civil War Fantasy. This piece incorporates a collage of traditional songs from the era, featuring "Dixieland," "Camptown Races," "Listen to the Mockingbird," "The Yellow Road of Texas," and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," among others. The HCB did a beautiful job with balance throughout this piece as many of these song-themes were overlapping and looping each other in a beautiful, chilling canon. Closing off the flurry of melodies and ambient instrumental sound effects was a broad and proud chorale setting of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" with recurring whispers of the previous song-themes peeking in throughout. The ensemble played this piece with lyrical and artistic integrity. It was an extremely beautiful way to close a terrific concert by the Hendersonville Community Band.