This week’s concert “Weird, Wild Stuff: Music that Thinks Outside of the Box” will highlight a few composers who have not always chosen the road well traveled. To some, the result of their efforts could be seen as wild and even a bit weird, but the things that set this music apart from the norm are the very same things that make it great.
Conducted by Assistant Director Major Jason K. Fettig, the concert will take place at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 2, at the Northern Virginia Community College’s Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center in Alexandria, Va. The program repertoire is full of jazz riffs and whistles, and the sounds of plainchant, church bells, fireworks, and even gladiators battling to the death.
The performance will begin with Charles Ives’s Country Band March, a progressive work infused with ragtime elements and unusual sounds reminiscent of community bands he heard throughout his youth. Those unusual sounds Ives incorporated into the piece include intentional wrong notes and early entrances, dropped beats in the percussion, and simultaneous melodies such as quotations from “London Bridge” and John Philip Sousa’s “Semper Fidelis.” According to the printed score: “From the ‘out of tune’ introduction to the pandemonium, which reigns at the close, the Country Band March is a marvelous parody of the realities of performance by a country band.”
Jazz and funk lovers will enjoy hearing Jonathan Newman’s “Chunk” and Leonard Bernstein’s Preluge, Fugue, and Riffs, featuring clarinet soloist Gunnery Sgt. William Bernier. These affectionately labeled weird and wild selections will showcase the brass and saxophone sections and are comprised of layered diverse musical styles including swing, blues, folk and funk.
“Over the past few centuries, composers have become ever bolder and more creative in how they use music to represent the world around them,” said Maj. Fettig. “It has often been the composers who dared to try something new in their works that are best remembered, and it has always been the innovators and free thinkers who have kept symphonic music relevant in a constantly evolving culture.”
Prior to the concert, beginning at 1:15 p.m., a string quartet will perform pre-concert music in the lobby. Also, following the program, patrons will have the opportunity to talk with Maj. Fettig and Gunnery Sgt. Bernier in the lobby.
The concert is free; tickets are not required. The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center is located at 3001 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, Va. Parking is available for $6 in the adjacent garage.
Complete Program and Notes