courtesy of John Hart

Emma Bishop
Social Media Director

On May 13, KSC Concert Band performed their final concert of the semester.

The band is composed of a combination of music students, employees of the college and Keene community members, who were all directed by Dr. John Hart.

“Keene State Concert Band welcomes people of all ages. We’ve got faculty, students, staff and community members. Now that the vaccinations have been rolling out, it’s been getting more and more safe for us to bring these people back into our ranks, so we are extremely happy to have them back tonight,” said Hart.

The concert was a combination of three live performances and a pre-recorded “intermission,” which showcased pieces from a previous concert. During this break, the band left the recital hall to let it air out, in accordance with the COVID-19 guidelines.

“Because of our safety protocols here in the Redfern and across campus, we can only actually play for about 30 minutes before we have to clear the space and let at least one full air circulation happen,” said Hart. The band played two live pieces before leaving the recital hall. After the recordings, the band returned for their final song of the semester.

The opening piece of the concert, “Strange Humors,” was conducted by Claire Fifield and Madison Gubata, two student conductors. They also conducted the two pre-recorded songs, with Gubata directing “Amazing Grace” and Fifield leading “Sheltering Sky.” Hart commended them and expressed his gratitude for them.

“We’re extremely lucky to have both Claire and Maddie. They’ve been like my right- hand in a lot of ways, taking over a lot of responsibilities this semester conducting-wise. In fact, in the previous concert, I didn’t conduct at all.” The band reflected Hart’s praise for the young conductors with a round of applause when the first piece ended.

The second live piece performed was “Vesivius,” named after the famous volcano that buried the city of Pompeii under the ash created by its eruption. Hart explained the compositional process of the piece’s composer, Frank Ticheli. What started out as a bacchanal, a composition that celebrates Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and fertility, the piece quickly shifted to a darker tone.

“As Ticheli was writing this, the themes that came to him were much more destructive in nature and so it didn’t take long for him to realize he wasn’t really writing about Bacchus or Bacchanal; He was writing about the end of the world,” Hart explained.

After this piece, the concert transitioned to the two pre-recorded pieces.

When the band returned, they performed the final piece of the concert, “Danzón No. 2.” Originally written for a string orchestra, the piece was transcribed by Oliver Nickel for a band to perform. It was nearly 12 minutes long, and featured a number of soloists from the band. Before the piece began, Hart introduced Dr. José Manuel Lezcano, Coordinator of Latin American Studies, to give a brief history lesson on the origin of the danzón.

“The danzón reflects the strong trade relations and cultural sympathy between Cuba and Mexico during the late 19th century… From a historical perspective, the danzón traces its roots to the Cuban contradanza,” said Lezcano. “The contradanza essentially reflected the tastes of the Cuban elites and landowners who disavowed Afro-Cuban influence of any kind, as morally suspect and low class. The danzón represented an evolution of the contradanza into something that was more syncopated and dangerous… This African quality was frowned upon by the elites, but did not stop the danzón from becoming very popular among the young people of it’s era.”

The event was only available via livestream, as there was no room for an audience. The performers were spread across the entire recital hall, placed in assigned spots throughout the rows of seats. This allowed the band to play live while still following the required amount of space apart stated in the COVID-19 guidelines.

“We have come up with a number of protocols to keep us safe throughout this pandemic, and because of those scientifically research-based protocols, we’ve been able to actually make music,” said Hart.


Emma Bishop can be contacted at:

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