ACU Bands holds its first sold-out concert since the start of the pandemic

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After two years of weird performances due to the pandemic, the ACU groups played their first full concert on Saturday.

The two orchestras were the Wind Ensemble and the Concert Band. Concert Band started the concert with four music tracks and Wind Ensemble ended the concert with five music tracks.

Dr. Brandon Houghtalen is the Director of Harmony and has been on the ACU faculty for 8 years. Dr. Houghtalen chose Katahj Copley’s Halcyon Hearts (2021) for its uplifting nature as a Concert Band opening piece. Another piece chosen to be uplifting was the closest, Joy Revisited (2005) by Frank Ticheli.

“Katahj Copley recently moved to Texas and his piece is an energetic and uplifting concert opener,” said Dr. Houghtalen. “Joy Revisited is another uplifting and (obviously) joyful piece. This represents a return to music in person.

Although the concert did not have an overall theme, the two groups created a piece of music. The Concert Band performed Catherine Likhuta’s Planet B (2021) for its Texas premiere. While Wind Ensemble played the first performance of The Long Goodbye (2022) by Abilene composer Bernard Scherr.

“The pieces were chosen for many reasons,” said Dr. Steven Ward, director of Wind Ensemble and professor in the music department. “It’s a wide variety of music, composers and a combination of newer, in some cases brand new, and older music.”

An important role for a conductor is to choose the repertoire for each concert. They need to make sure the music goes well together and choose the right music for their musicians. This repertoire for this concert was all the more important since the groups had not given a complete concert for a few years.

“Programming is one of the most challenging yet rewarding aspects of being a conductor,” Dr. Houghtalen said. “I have chosen music that will interest the musicians and the public.”

Usually, the Wind Ensemble uses this annual concert as a kick-off for their tour, but this has not been possible recently due to the pandemic. However, this year Wind Ensemble performed at Wylie High School on Monday and Abilene High School on Tuesday.

The ACU Bands concert was held at the Abilene Convention Center, making the concert more accessible to Abilene residents instead of just ACU students, promoting the community.

“Music always benefits performers and audiences alike,” Dr. Ward said. “And no better time than now.”

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