TCU music ensembles perform in Carnegie Hall this week

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    The TCU Horned Frog football team was in the national spotlight in January, and now two award-winning TCU music ensembles will take center stage in what was described to be their own Rose Bowl experience.

    Two award-winning TCU music ensembles will perform brand new compositions in New York City this week at the prestigious Carnegie Hall.

    Director of Bands, Bobby R. Francis, said the TCU Wind Symphony will perform three pieces that will have their New York premieres and that the TCU Percussion Ensemble will perform at least one world premiere.

    Richard Gipson, director of the School of Music, said the wind symphony will perform at Carnegie Hall on Thursday and that the TCU Jazz Ensemble would join the wind symphony on one piece. He said the percussion ensemble will perform at Merkin Hall in Manhattan on Wednesday. Merkin Hall is a smaller venue that Gipson said was more appropriate for the group’s size.

    “It’s kind of like the musical equivalent of the football team playing in the Rose Bowl,” he said. “These are concert venues that represent the pinnacle of performance.”

    The wind symphony and the percussion ensemble left for New York on Monday and will return Saturday, Gipson said. He expected about 80 students to make the trip.

    Francis, who is also the conductor of the TCU Wind Symphony, said it was a great opportunity for students. He said students will leave the performance with memories and a feeling of musical history.

    “This is a unique opportunity to get to perform at probably the one performance venue in the entire world that you can say [the name] anywhere and they know what it is,” Francis said. “They know the history, and they know prestige of that, just by hearing the name Carnegie Hall.”

    Francis said the trip to New York was in the planning stages for the past three years. The wind symphony performed at Carnegie Hall in the past, but Francis said the other time was as part of a shared concert 15 or 20 years ago. This will be the first time the wind symphony will perform in Carnegie Hall by itself.

    Brian Youngblood, associate director of bands at TCU and guest conductor, said the performance will serve as a way to recruit and develop the band program. He said students from high schools and universities will be in attendance, and it will be a good way to get those students interested in TCU.

    Tonya Bell-Green, associate manager for public relations at Carnegie Hall, said Carnegie Hall is not producing the Wind Symphony’s performance. Coordinators or producers have the option of renting the hall. TCU reserved the hall and will produce the performance.

    Michelle Strickland, a junior music education major and member of the wind symphony, said the opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall was a dream come true.

    “Every music person grows up knowing that Carnegie [Hall] is the epitome of concert halls,” Strickland said. “The fact that we’re actually going to have the opportunity to play there is mind-boggling.”

    She said it will be worth the intensive rehearsals and early mornings. She said the group had 10 hours of rehearsal during the first half of last week.

    Francis said the selected music had to be appropriate for the performance. For this concert, he said a program that was both entertaining and a substantial fit because the symphony expected a diverse crowd that would include tourists, alumni, family, friends and administrators. He said many of the composers of the music that the group will be playing will also be in attendance.

    Gipson said he expected a very large crowd at Carnegie Hall and for Merkin Hall to be sold out.

    Carnegie Hall seats 2,804 in the main Isaac Stern Auditorium, and Merkin Hall seats 450 people.

    By being in New York, Gipson said it allowed the groups to essentially perform for the world and that it provided the opportunity to show what the School of Music can do.

    Francis said the wind symphony’s program will include music by composers Anthony Plog, David Maslanka, John Mackey, Joseph Turrin and Grammy Award-winning composer Patrick Williams.

    According to a press release, the percussion ensemble’s program will include music by Raymond Helble, Ricardo Souza, Eric Ewazen, Dave Hall, David Maslanka and Dwayne Rice.

    Francis said the group will rehearse in New York prior to the concert and said Williams, Turrin and Plog would be at the rehearsals.

    “[The composers] will be there to make any final comments that they might want to make about what we’ve done with their music,” Francis said.

    Gipson said the School of Music was funding the trip, but declined to discuss how much the trip would cost.

    Strickland said, “With what the band has experienced this year with the Rose Bowl and the Super Bowl, it’s like the perfect ending to our year.”

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