On April 24, the Hope College Concert Band performed in the Jack Miller Center for Musical Arts. The band was directed by Dr. Gabe Southard along with several student conductors: Genevieve DeHart (’19), Jessica Proper (’21), Charles Jordan (’21), Samantha Savalle (’19) and Andrew DePree (’21). This group differs from many other Hope ensembles in that it consists of Hope students, members of the Holland community and Hope faculty. “The best aspect is the fact that we have this intergenerational ensemble,” says Dr. Jonathon Peterson, a professor of geology and environmental sciences here at Hope.
“We have people who’ve been playing their instruments for 50 or 60 years, we have Hope students who have been playing for just a few years, we have some very accomplished musicians and we have people who are just trying to get back into it. It’s that mixing of levels of expertise and age that makes it a very fun group.” Peterson has been playing the trombone since fifth grade, and the Concert Band offered him the chance to bring the instrument back into his life. “I played in the wind ensemble and in the orchestra, and then I just put the horn away, as many people do; as the demands of life press in, you have less and less time to play an instrument. Fast forward: my daughter did the music education degree here, and she was a student conductor in the concert band under Gabe Southard. She encouraged me to play in the band because she recognized how good of an experience it was for people.” For this concert, the Concert Band performed “The Midnight Fire Alarm!” composed by Harry Lincoln, Trauermusik, “WWV73” by Richard Wagner, “Marche des Parachutistes Belges” by Pierre Leemans, “Sang!” by Dana Wilson, “October” by Eric Whitacre, “Rhosymedre” by Ralph Vaughan Williams and “Armenian Dances, Part ll” by Alfred Reed. Each aformentioned student had the opportunity to conduct a song, making this band a unique group to watch and to perform with.
The Concert Band functions as a “lab” for those music students who have to conduct at some point in their schooling. By allowing students to take the lead, the group fosters encouragement. For Dr. Peterson, this is part of the fun. “What I have observed as a professor, I have certain insights and perspectives which maybe some community members don’t is that there’s a big growth of confidence,” Peterson explains. “As the semester goes on, students begin to master the piece they’re assigned, learn how to interact with the group, learn how to interpret the music and how to help the musicians see how they want to interpret it. It’s a trajectory upward that’s really cool to see, and I appreciate it as an educator myself.” This was the first and final performance for the Concert Band this semester. Students are also encouraged to join Concert Band for next semester. On this subject, Dr. Peterson had this to say: “If you have played a band instrument, and you haven’t played it for several years, and you’re getting an inkling to play it, but you think ‘oh, I’m sure I’m not good enough anymore; I’m sure I’ve forgotten all that,’ the Concert Band is the perfect debut for you to get back into it.”