STERLING — The Sterling Municipal Band chased away a winter’s evening cold when it presented two rousing contemporary works on Friday night during its pops concert.
While demonstrating its strengths in evoking mood and movement, the wind ensemble also showcased the talents of its own principal flutist during the 90-minute program.
Additional seating was added to accommodate the crowd of several hundred, which filled the main sanctuary of New Life Lutheran Church.
Once the audience was settled in, the 60-member band under Annette Hackbarth’s direction warmed up on Jack Stamp’s “Gavorkna Fanfare” before diving into the more challenging “unBroken” by Randall Standridge.
“unBroken” is a 15-minute long composition whose light and airy melody runs headlong into short bouts of discordant sounds. It builds toward a broader climatic triumph, but extends its finale with a quieter, assuring phrase accompanied by light piano.
The piece is intended by its Arkansas-based composer to prompt discussion about mental illness.
The second act featured a more muscular piece, Samuel R. Hazo’s “Arabesque.” It opened with trilling flutes. It then followed the lead of its percussionists on chalice drums — echoed by horns and trombones — in emulating the swirling quick-steps of Middle Eastern line dances.
“Arabesque” was written for the 2008 Indiana All-State Band and the Sterling band performed it with great gusto.
“Valse” from Suite de Trois Morceaux by Benjamin Godard served as a demonstration piece for Davenport, Iowa, flute player Crystal Duffee, one of the band’s longest-serving members.
In addition to being the featured performer, Duffee also took the woodwind’s lead during the band’s rendition of David R. Gillingham’s 1999 composition of “Be Thou My Vision.”
The first act’s other pieces were Leroy Anderson’s fluffy “Jazz Pizzicato” popularized by the Boston Pops in the 1930s and a Glenn Bainum arrangement of Johannes Hanssen’s “Valdres.”
Intermission was broken by the lively selections of “Folk Dances” by modern Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. The second act included John Philip Sousa’s bouncy “Free Lance March.”
The concert closed — as many local performances have — with a version of “Carol of the Bells” in solidarity with Ukraine.
The Sterling band chose a nontraditional version of the Ukrainian folk melody: a progressive-rock arrangement by Mannheim Steamroller founder Chip Davis and Robert Longfield.
The band announced its spring concert would be 7 p.m. April 26 at Centennial Auditorium. Andy Rummel, professor of tuba and euphonium at Illinois State University, will be the featured soloist.
The band also announced its summer season would run May 31 to Aug. 2. Its concerts start at 7:30 p.m. at Central Memorial Park’s Grandon Civic Center, with opening musical acts hitting the stage at 6:15 p.m.
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