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The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Preparation and resiliency define GV Concert Band performance

GVL/ Sydney Lim

At 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 16, the members of Grand Valley State University’s Concert Band made their final preparations for the first concert of the 2023 fall semester. Many of the musicians focused on tuning their instruments and rehearsing sections of the night’s program, while those with larger instruments used the 15 minutes before the 6:45 p.m. call time for assembly.

Nicholas Sparks, the principal clarinetist for GVSU’s Concert Bands,  aid the brief time spent together before each concert is crucial for their success. He also noted the importance of trying to “ ocus on blending with each other” so that everyone sounds like one cohesive instrument.

Sparks began his playing career in middle school and has grown accustomed to the pre-concert jitters and anxiousness that afflict many performers. 

“If people have put in the preparation that they needed to, then some of those nerves go away,” Sparks said. “Once everyone knows what they’re doing, it makes everything more comfortable.”

Sparks said preparation is key for an ensemble of this size. The Concert Band meets three times per week for 50-minute sessions, totaling 18 rehearsals since the start of the semester. 

Rehearsals were led by John Martin, Conductor of the Concert Band and Associate Professor and Director of GVSU’s Athletic Bands. Martin said it was during a rehearsal three weeks before the concert that a “proverbial light bulb” went off in his head. He realized the level of investment that this group of musicians had. 

“It’s such a neat feeling,” Martin said. “Instead of coming into rehearsal and it being a ‘root canal,’ we got into things musically where the preparation was just blatant.”

Being as prepared as they possibly could be, Martin said the Concert Band was eager to finally perform the music they had spent so much time rehearsing. 

As the 7:30 p.m. start time drew near, a large crowd began to form in the lobby outside of GVSU’s Louis Armstrong Theatre. Many of the families in the crowd stopped at the pop-up table selling flowers before making their way into the theatre and to their seats. Shortly after, the lights dimmed and the musicians took the stage to perform the nine songs in the program. 

The concert featured a variety of works from different composers such as Rossano Galante and Haley Woodrow. English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was prominently featured throughout the performance, including his famous “English Folk Song Suite.” 

After a brief halfway point intermission, the Concert Band performed Julius Fučík’s “Florentiner, Grande Marcia Italiana.” During this performance, there was a miscommunicated hand signal that Martin gave to the band, which he had never used in rehearsal before. However, the band did not stop the performance, and they continued their tempo, which Martin said he was “beyond proud of.”

“I always tell them in rehearsal to follow the music and we’ll be okay,” Martin said. “What they did, that’s the growth and maturity of a group where the lightbulb just turned on.”

The Concert Band will perform their next show on Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Louis Armstrong Theatre. 

Those interested in auditioning for Concert Band, Orchestra or Wind Symphony are encouraged to fill out the online registration form. All of GVSU’s music ensembles and auditions are open to students, regardless of major.

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About the Contributor
Dylan Hoffius
Dylan Hoffius, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Dylan Hoffius is the Lanthorn's Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Winter 2024 semester. He previously worked as an Arts & Entertainment staff writer during the Fall 2023 semester. Dylan is a senior at Grand Valley State University, majoring in journalism, broadcast, and digital media, with aspirations to critique film and write for a sports and pop-culture outlet after graduation. He loves to watch movies at the theater, play disc golf and cheer for Michigan-based sports teams, specifically the Lions and Pistons. Follow his Letterboxd account for unbiased movie reviews and rankings. Graduating Winter 2024 Major: Journalism, Broadcast, and Digital Media