Mat-Su band hopes for a home next year

Art Snob Blog

WASILLA - In its 30 years of existence, the Mat-Su Concert Band (originally a marching band) has rattled around from venue to venue. Friday night's program was played in the cafeteria/multipurpose room  of Teeland Middle School.

The era of such ad hoc accommodations should come to a close in 2015, however. Conductor Gleo Huyck announced that the band hopes to present concerts in the new auditorium at the Mat-Su Campus of UAA when it is completed next winter.

The 60-or-so-piece ensemble certainly deserves quarters amenable to music-making. Friday's program included several difficult pieces, including a Symphonic Concert March by the mysterious G. Bonelli and Brahms' Academic Festival Overture. Both required a lot of the players, who came through well. The flying fingers of the winds playing the violin part in the finale of the Overture was particularly impressive.

A suite drawn from the music for the miniseries "Band of Brothers" received a stirring performance and the percussion section had a field day with s taiko-inspired showpiece "Summon the Spirits" by Keven Tuck.

The softer side of the bands sound was heard in Samuel Hazo's "Fantasy on a Japanese Folk Song," with fine and careful playing from the flutes, and Kevin Memley's "Ave Maria," conducted by Shawn Campbell, on loan from the trombone section.

The pops side was represented by two American masters. Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies" was delivered by a choir of trombones and Leroy Anderson's buoyant "Belle of the Ball" concluded the concert.

Karl Jenkins "Palladio," usually played by strings, felt slow and stodgy; perhaps there are limits in what even a good band can imitate. Otherwise Huyck obtained a well-blended and tight sound from the ensemble. 

The band, which produces four varied full programs each year and puts in several appearances at community events (look for them during Colony Days) will have only two more concerts in a gym before moving to the college. It should be interesting to hear how they sound in that facility.

The opening events have already been planned, but I hope Anchorage groups will make it a point to play at least a few dates at the college. The Fairbanks Symphony has long made it a point to travel to Delta, Healy and Denali on a fairly regular basis. Surely the Anchorage Symphony, Youth Symphony, Concert Chorus, Chamber Singers, etc. can make the much closer trip from Anchorage to Trunk Road. 


Mike Dunham