Band director makes bold song choice

After earning a superior rating at last month’s MPAs, the Wind Ensemble is ready for a “fiery” new challenge.

Band Director Carol Allen selected “Vesuvius” by Frank Ticheli to play at the spring concert in May. The rest of the lineup for the concert remains undecided.

Though there is no official difficulty rating, Allen said it is a college-level piece.  She said it will not be easy, even for this superior band.

“The timing and rhythms are what make this difficult,” Allen said. “Technically, it’s not as hard as you would think, but it’s just the rhythms and timing that can get hard.”

Allen said that although her students seem a little nervous about tackling the harder-than-usual piece, she thinks they will come to appreciate it with more practice.

“It feels like the students weren’t sure if they could [play the song] or not,” she said. “But now that they’ve played it, they realize they can do it.”

Sophomore Zuri Lawrence said she wasn’t too sure about “Vesuvius” at first.

“I thought, ‘This is going to take a lot of practicing,’ ” the French horn player said.

“Vesuvius” is a brisk piece, running in some places at 168 beats per minute. Allen said as long as the band practices slowly, there should be no problems playing at full speed at the concert in a few weeks.

“If we keep doing what we’re doing, playing it slow and gradually speeding up,  we should be fine,” Allen said of her spring concert strategy. “We will go for perfection, rather than speed.”

Senior Robert Edmiston said he feels the song can be difficult in some areas, but for the most part has things under control.

“I haven’t run into any issues yet, but we haven’t sped it up yet,” he said. “There’s a section of really high notes on the trombone part.”

While the various time changes in the piece can seem hard to keep up with, Lawrence said she embraces the challenge.

“My favorite part is the different time signatures like eleven-eight and nine-eight,” Lawrence said.

Edmiston agrees.

“[The hardest part] is all the different time changes are difficult to count and keep up with,” he said. “They make the piece sound cool, though.”

To hear Vesuvius online, visit www.manhattanbeachmusic.com.

By Katie Garwood