Upton, Cole collaborate on fall concert


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“Old, slow and new” was the theme for the fall Symphonic Band concert held on Oct. 5. To follow that theme, band director Daniel Upton chose three pieces of music that reflected each part of it: Frank Erickson’s “Tocata for Band,” Eric Whitacre’s “October” and Michael Markowski’s “Shine”.

“[Tocata for Band] is a nice standard piece of repertoire and it does a lot of different things technique-wise to explore earlier in the year,” Upton said. “ Eric Whitacre is typically a choral composer, so that’s why [October], sounds kind of like a choir throughout. It’s one of his few works that he wrote for band first. I did that one in high school and it’s one of the first slow pieces that I really fell in love with. The last one, [“Shine”] is our new piece… It’s very upbeat, rhythmic and gets that some of that grooving, technical business going earlier in the year.”

Joining in the concert was Robert E. Lee High School’s Symphonic Band. Directed by Laura Cole, they performed pieces by Gustav Holst, Frank Erickson and Andrew Boysen Jr. prior to HHS’s Symphonic Band.

With Cole being one of Upton’s close colleagues and friends, they chose to combine their fall concerts, which is something that Upton has always enjoyed the idea of.

“I have always been fond of wanting to get students together to share what they’re doing because it doesn’t happen enough. With people’s busy schedules, it’s hard to get out and go to other concerts. She was thinking about doing a fall concert, and we were as well, so I said ‘why don’t we put it together?’ It’s really positive for everyone involved and the audience enjoys seeing the different perspectives, so that was important to us,” Upton said.  

Though the band’s annual Prism Concert has been held during this time in October in previous years, Upton wanted to try hosting a full band concert in its place, pushing the Prism Concert date further in the year.

“I liked doing it this way. It really gave the ensemble a fresh, ready-to-go start preparing full band things like we’ll do for the rest of the year. Prism a lot more chamber music with a different perspective, so I’ll be interested to see how their growth is for that, doing it a little later in the semester,” Upton said.  

Upton feels very good about how the concert went and is pleased with the students’ level of performance at this point in the year.

“I don’t know if I’ve felt that strongly about a first concert of the year since I’ve been here. I told the students that throughout the year so far, every day I’m more impressed with their level of maturity and musicianship,” Upton said. “From the first day, sight-reading their music, they were performing at a much higher level than last year already. Usually it takes us a little while to get into the groove of that, so it was exciting to see how quick they were ready to roll with it.”

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