Concert will raise money for high school bands

Concert will raise money for high school bands

CHAMPAIGN — Wind ensembles from three Champaign-Urbana high schools will perform together for the first time at a concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Virginia Theatre.

"Under American Skies: Celebrating Our Musical Community on Granny's Porch" also will be a fundraiser for the Urbana, Champaign Central and Centennial high school bands.

The concert also will close the 10th annual American Music Month Celebration sponsored by the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at the University of Illinois.

The Urbana, Central and Centennial wind ensembles, directed respectively by Darren Hicks, John Currey and Mike Allen, will perform symphonic band selections by Roger Nixon, Dimitri Shostakovich, Michael Markowski, Vincent Persichetti, Piet Swerts, Davide delle Cese, Vaclav Nelhybel, Alfred Reed, Johan de Meij and John Philip Sousa.

In addition, a select group of students from the three ensembles will form a community combined band to perform the world premiere of "Under American Skies," written by Benjamin Montalbano for concert and marching band.

The combined band will be conducted by Barry Houser, director of the Marching Illini and assistant director of bands at the UI.

The new composition was commissioned by the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music in 2012 to highlight Sousa's influence on America's school band movement in the 1920s and '30s.

Gary O'Brien, a longtime resident of Champaign who is now director of communications and project development for the Schottenstein Center at Ohio State University, will return to the Virginia to serve as host of the concert. This will be his fifth time hosting the Granny's Porch concert.

Montalbano, who earned his undergraduate degree in music composition at the UI in 2012 and is studying composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, also will return to provide a preconcert talk on his new composition between 6:45 and 7:15 p.m. at the theater.

Tickets for "Under American Skies: Celebrating Our Musical Community on Granny's Porch" are $5 for adults and children and $20 for families of six. To buy tickets, visit thevirginia.org or call 356-9053. All proceeds will be shared equally among the three band programs.

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