UI bands concert a toe-tapping good time

UI bands concert a toe-tapping good time

On the hazy but breezy evening of June 19, Interim Director of Bands Linda Moorhouse led the UI summer band in the first of their summer concerts on the UI Quad.

This concert, opening the 104th season of such concerts, might have been called "homecoming."

Devoted entirely to music associated with the UI, conductor Moorhouse shared the baton with other bandmasters of the past, and those associated with past UI band conductors.

The result was an evening of sweet, evocative melodies, and energetic, toe-tapping march rhythms, and through the informative commentary from Dave Shaul, it was a mini-voyage through the history of the UI bands.

After a vintage version of the Star-Spangled Banner, conductor Moorhouse continued with a piece first performed at the UI in 1897, and in 1925 adopted as the official Illinois State Song, "By thy rivers gently flowing."

In memory of the famous tenure of Albert Austin Harding as UI director from 1907 to '48, Moorhouse led the band in the 1906 fight song "Illinois Loyalty" by Thatcher Guild. Moorhouse's invitation to the Quad audience to stand, sing and clap along was enthusiastically accepted by many in the crowd.

The first of the guest conductors was Gary Smith, who led Illinois bands from 1976 to '98 and again in 2004. Smith directed the band in Harold Vawter Hill and Howard R. Green's 1908 "Cheer Illini" and "Oskee Wow Wow." Smith then led the band in the 1922 march by Harry Alford, published in 1928 as "March of the Illini."

The next guest was Thomas Caneva (1995-2005), who conducted the ensemble in Carl King's 1927 march "Pride of the Illini."

The greatest of America's composers of marches, John Philip Sousa, was a strong admirer of UI director Harding, whose ensemble Sousa once described as "the world's greatest college band." In 1929, Sousa wrote his "University of Illinois March." Quality will tell, and the Sousa march had that special touch of greatness. It was vigorously conducted by Barry Houser, who is the current director of athletic bands and assistant director of bands at the UI.

Mark H. Hindsley was UI director of bands from 1948 to 1970. His son, Robert H. Hindsley, a retired band director, led the group in his father's arrangement of "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral" from Richard Wagner's opera "Lohengrin."

After this stirring piece, for me the musical highlight of the evening, Hindsley led the band in A. F. Hand's "Governor's March," which serves as the Marching Illini's classic pregame entrance.

Then William Kisinger, son of Everett D. Kisinger (1948-76), led the band in Harry Alford's "Glory of the Gridiron" and Paris Chamber's "Revelation March."

In 1954, a famous bandmaster and composer, Edwin Franko Goldman, wrote an "Illinois March." Then Guy M. Duker, who led UI bands from 1953 to 1978, wrote lyrics for the trio of the Goldman March. Mark Duker, grandson of Guy Duker, led the band in the Goldman March as well as Karl King's "Barnum & Bailey's Favorite."

Moorhouse closed out this Illini Festival with James Curnow's 1971 medley "Illini Fantasy." This was followed by the medley, "Three-in-One," and lastly, we were all encouraged by Moorehouse to stand and sing the UI "Alma Mater." And, so we did, ending this feast of Illini tuneful march music. This UI summer band will also perform at 7 p.m. on July 17 on the UI Quad.

***

Kevin Kelly, founder and director of the Prairie Ensemble, is leaving C-U for the Chicago suburbs and so the Prairie Ensemble will give its final concert on July 19 at Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign. At this farewell concert, works by Benjamin Britten, Carl Nielsen ("Flute Concerto," with Mary Leathers Chapman as soloist), and George Butterworth will be performed, and the concert will end with Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, the "Pastoral."

John Frayne hosts "Classics of the Phonograph" on Saturdays at WILL-FM and, in retirement, teaches at the University of Illinois. He can be reached at frayne@illinois.edu.

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