The Keene State College Music Department presented another installment of their ensemble recital series, “Flugelhorns, Flamenco and Fanfares: Music for guitars and wind band.” The performance featured the KSC Concert Band and the KSC Guitar orchestra on Thursday, April 7, at the Redfern Art Center.
The Concert band was instructed by Music Director Dr. James Chesebrough, and included conducting performances by Assistant Conductors and KSC students Hannah Benoit, Danielle St. Amand and Devon Larrabee.
The evening began with Chesebrough conducting the musical number “Crown Imperial” by William Walton, arranged by W.J. Duthoit. Benoit, followed by directing the performance of an Irish tune from County Derry by Percy A. Grainger. Before the show began, Benoit said conducting in front of a live audience was something out of the ordinary for her.
“It’s definitely much different than what I do normally because I’m a performance-education major,” Benoit said. “I never really get to conduct or something, so this is really kind of stepping out of my comfort zone a little bit.”
After a round of applause, the Guitar Orchestra took the stage. They performed “Courante” from Terpsichore by Michael Praetorious, “Rondo of Guitars” by Paul Hindemith and “Amaneceres” from Suite Habana by Eduardo Martin. Conducted by Music Director Jose Lezcano, the Guitar Orchestra provided a differing sound from the Orchestra Band that made the show diverse.
Larrabee then took the stage to conduct “Fate of Gods” by Steven Reineke, with both the Concert Band and Guitar band playing in harmony. The performance was then followed by St. Amand, who conducted “Arabesque” by David Schafferand closed out with Chesebrough’s instruction of “Chester” by William Schuman.
The performance received a standing ovation from the crowd before the performers were greeted by family and friends in the lobby.
After the show, Larrabee said his performance required a lot of what is known of “score study,” which entails “reading through the score and…hours of just pouring over the score and just really analyzing every single part of the entire band and putting it all back together in rehearsal.”
Both Larrabee and Benoit discussed the influence Chesebrough has had on them from a musical aspect.
“Dr. Chesebrough absolutely changed my entire idea of the concert band,” Larrabee said. “When I was in high school it was just the thing I was good at, but coming here and learning under him for four years and this being my final concert, it was the best performance I think I could have put on. It was a blast.”
Benoit said she and her fellow students try to “soak in” all of the knowledge Chesebrough has to offer.
“He’s incredible,” Benoit said. “He has a doctorate in conducting so everything that we take from him we absorb like sponges. He’s so inspiring and he knows exactly what he’s talking about so any kind of advice that he gives us, I just take it to the heart and it always improves my conducting.”
Chesebrough said he thought all of the performances went great and were “very expressive.” He added that preparation for this performance began after the performance on Feb. 15, and members rehearsed for “many weeks,” twice a week from 6 to 7:45 a.m. or p.m. Larrabee also added that much of the performance preparation required that members of the band rehearse on their own.
With all of the hard work and practice involved as a united band, Chesebrough described his close relationship with the assistant conductors. Chesebrough said he has a “very close” relationship with the ACs.
“That’s why I’m careful when I pick them, and the three tonight were outstanding,” Chesebrough said. “Last semester, same thing. I can’t remember when I ever made a mistake and brought in a conductor that was not a good relationship. With the band itself, the players, it varies. I wasn’t kidding. They start out; they don’t get it. I’m not really a warm fuzzy, so there’s a lot of demands on them, but slowly but surely they start to see the things that are working.”
After the performance, Chesebrough added that the band “had some fun tonight too and that’s very important.”
Nick Tocco can be contacted at email@example.com