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University and Concert bands look to show off a semester of work

BY EVAN CLARK | DECEMBER 08, 2010 7:10 AM

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When University Band member Howard Chen picked up the saxophone in fifth grade, he wasn't exactly thinking of the long road of music lessons and band practices that would ensue.

Quite the contrary.

"I just remember the saxophone being the biggest, brightest, shiniest instrument to choose from," said Chen, a University of Iowa first-year graduate student in engineering. "Basically, I started playing it because it looked so cool."

And now, after a lot of hard work and dedication, it's time for Chen and his fellow University Band and Concert Band members to not only look cool but condense a semester's worth of practicing into one evening of musical compositions.

The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the IMU Main Lounge with free admission.

University Band conductor Curran Prendergast said the students' efforts have helped everyone grow musically.

"This is a challenging program that's also fun and rewarding, and people can expect a nice, balanced performance with catchy pieces as well as structured pieces that will challenge the students artistically," he said.

The diverse pieces range from early 20th-century composers Jaime Texidor and Percy Aldridge Grainger along with current modern composers such as John Mackey and UI graduate Andrew Boysen Jr., whose 1992 piece "I Am" was written as a tribute to a fellow Cedar Rapids high-school band member who was killed in an automobile accident. The piece will be performed tonight in his honor.

Chen said the number of different styles incorporated in the performance will capture the audience's attention.

The students involved in the University Band take band as a one-credit class open to all students without any auditions, allowing for a wide variety of students who don't necessarily focus on music as a potential career. But Prendergast is confident that the students are focused enough on their music to pull off a great show.

"I'd say about 90 percent of the students in the University Band are non-music majors," he said. "So the group views coming here as an opportunity to help polish off their instruments."

Students like Chen see music as a way to cope with stress.

"Music just keeps everything in check for me," he said. "Rehearsal allows me not to worry about anything else."


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