AU Symphonic Band delivers an impressive performance

DPA’s Symphonic Band plays upbeat and spirited music for an audience of parents, students and staff

AU Symphonic Band delivers an impressive performance

Conductor Matthew Brown instructs the band energetically and passionately. 

American University’s Fall Symphonic Band Concert featured a beautiful program of lively music and passionate instrumentalists on Nov. 20. 

The performance took place in the Abramson Family Recital Hall at Katzen Arts Center. Parents, fellow students and faculty members attended the show. Unlike previous years, students could now attend for free due to recent changes in AU’s ticketing. 

Students found the production was helpful in allowing them to learn about balance and the importance of a strong group dynamic.

“While there were some challenges in learning my part on its own, the hardest challenge with mastering my part in the band comes with learning how it fits in with everyone else’s part,” said Matt Lipka, a junior in the School of International Service and the principal clarinetist and concertmaster. “I can read my part on its own and get by, but knowing how it connects with the two to three other clarinet parts and other instruments’ parts in a piece leads to a much better performance.”  

The program featured songs like “March Carillon” by American composer Howard Hanson (Arrangement by Erik W.G. Leidzen), “An Original Suite” by Gordon Jacob and “This Cruel Moon” by John Mackey. 

“I think we played ‘This Cruel Moon’ really well,” said Jimmy Grebenstein, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s not the most difficult piece when looking at the notes, but in terms of balance it brought it to a whole different level. Hearing the different sections balance with each other was really something amazing and we produced a great sound.” 

The students were led by Matthew Brown, who was both the director and conductor of the performance. Brown is currently the Director of Orchestras and Symphonic Band at American University, as well as Music Director of the International Conductors’ Festival of Kyiv, according to the concert program. 

“The band environment is really friendly, and everyone really encourages each other to do their best,” Grebenstein said. “It’s great that we all come from different majors and different schools but we all share a love and passion for music, so it’s really fun.”  

Brown chose to close the concert out with a “Suite of Old American Dances” by Robert Bennett, which featured songs like “Cake Walk,” “Wallflower Waltz” and “Rag.”

“Band by definition is filled with teamwork. To borrow a sports analogy, there are no bench players, so everyone has to know their part,” Lipka said. “There is a sense of camaraderie and friendship that comes from being in the AU symphonic band too, everyone wants to work together and get to know each other.” 

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle

Would you like to support our work? Donate here to The Eagle Innovation Fund.