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Student performers are sound of autumn

Marty Schroeder and Sean Sweany | Thursday, November 2, 2006

Glee Club

The Notre Dame Glee Club will be bringing their considerable talents to the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center Saturday with their annual Fall Concert. As always, the Glee Club promises to bring talent, preparation and a love for their craft to audiences. They also like to have fun and are willing to delve into songs that may not be regarded as “high art.”

This year’s performance promises to be as interesting and varied as any concert they’ve done in the past. Everything from spirituals, barbershop songs, sea shanties and liturgical hymns will be performed. It promises to be an engaging show with a musical piece for anyone.

“The audience will experience many different genres of music and will probably encounter something new. Also, if students come, they will be able to hear audience favorites like Biebel’s ‘Ave Maria,’ ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘The Notre Dame Victory March,'” senior Nathan Catanese, Glee Club President, said.

This yearly event – with a first half featuring more classical fare and a contemporary-driven second half – is synonymous with the Glee Club itself. The club was founded in 1915 as an all male chorus, a distinction it holds today. With music that connects the past and the present, the Glee Club pays homage to their roots while not losing focus on their current performances.

“As an all-male group that has existed continuously since 1915, the Glee Club connects Notre Dame’s historically rich past with its vibrant present,” Catanese said.

Also, the group will invite past Glee Club members to sing the last three songs with the current members. Dedication to its alumni is a source of pride for the Glee Club and remains an integral part of their success.

Coinciding with the Fall Concert, the Glee Club will be holding a joint concert with West Point’s Glee Club amidst the Friday, Nov. 17 festivities of the Notre Dame-Army weekend at the Performing Arts Center. As highly regarded as the two clubs are, this collaboration offers a unique opportunity to see two premier singing groups simultaneously. Additionally, the performance allows a welcome chance to honor the men and women in the nation’s service academies.

These concerts come on the heels of the Glee Club’s Fall Tour, which saw them travel to Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The music featured during this tour, selected by Glee Club Director Dan Stowe, will be the same as the pieces performed at the Fall Concert. On the horizon for the group remains their yearly Christmas Concert in December.

The Glee Club is dedicated to their craft and to Notre Dame and forms an indispensable organ of the Notre Dame community. For those who have never seen the Glee Club’s talents in person, this Friday’s performance is an excellent opportunity to do so. The performance will begin 8 p.m. in the Leighton Concert Hall of the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts.

Notre Dame Concert Bands

While Notre Dame boasts one of the greatest collegiate marching band in the country, there are many other branches of the Notre Dame bands equally as talented and noteworthy. One of these includes the Notre Dame Concert Bands, which will hold their annual Fall Concert this evening in Washington Hall.

The program, entitled “American Classics,” will feature two separate acts by the Symphonic Band and Symphonic Winds showcasing many notable American tunes from composers such as George Gershwin. Other composers who are not American, such as Antonin Dvorak, will have music included that is commonly associated with American themes like Dvorak’s “New World Symphony,” inspired by Native American music during the Czech composer’s visit to the United States in the 1890s.

The two bands are comprised of some 150 students, including members who are in the Notre Dame Marching Band. All performers undergo auditions at the beginning of the semester and weekly practices to prepare for the show. In spite of the seemingly short amount of rehearsals, the bands are an excellent and talented ensemble of student performers who seem to have been working together for years.

Much of this is thanks to the direction given to the bands by the familiar Marching Band names of Dr. Kenneth Dye, Sam Sanchez, Emmett O’Leary, Kelly May and Matt Merten. This group has put much time and effort into producing this show, with spectacular results. The inspiration for the “American Classics” theme came from Dye after previous concerts at events such as Junior Parents Weekend have been themed to the works of John Philips Sousa and Motown hits.

May, one of the conductors for the Symphonic Band, hopes that audiences will come away with enjoyment of “great American music and some exposure to pieces they have never heard before.”

One of these less known pieces is a set of Cajun folk songs, musical expressions of the early 19th century Louisiana French Society. These catchy pieces, arranged by famous composer Frank Ticheli, go beyond the clichéd 20th century versions of Cajun folk music and capture the true sense of the underappreciated genre, which encompasses a musical movement from quiet contemplation to optimism to exhilaration. In keeping with the Cajun theme, the Notre Dame New Orleans Brass Band will perform the gospel song “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” between the two acts.

More well-known songs such as “Shenandoah,” the 19th century coal miner’s folk song, will be played to transport the audience to a simpler time when the power of song as a communicative medium was much stronger than today.

Along with known classics and favorites, the band has also chosen some lighthearted and fun songs to entertain the audience. One such song features a perfectly calibrated and tuned typewriter as a musical instrument, played by Assistant Director of Bands Larry Dwyer. Aptly titled “The Typewriter,” the song is both creative and comical in its unique blend of old technology and musical instruments.

The Notre Dame Bands Concert provides a unique opportunity for audience members to see their fellow students and Marching Band members in a drastically different venue than Notre Dame Stadium. The talent of these musicians truly shines here and allows one to appreciate the music they perform. Headlined by such gifted performers and excellent music, “American Classics” is not to be missed.