The Bangor Symphony Orchestra wrapped up its 125th season with a couple of fanfares, a melodic march, a big sigh of relief and a lot of hope that it never has to go through another season like this last one.
The fifth and final concert recorded on June 6 at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono spotlights the brass, wind and percussion sections of the orchestra. It features a march by Ludwig van Beethoven, works by two living African-American composers and a concert suite of Kurt Weill’s music for “The Threepenny Opera.”
The COVID-19 pandemic upended the orchestra’s planned season and moved its five-concert series online. Because of gathering limits and social distancing requirements, Conductor and Music Director Lucas Richman shortened the programs from about two hours, including an intermission, to about 60 minutes.
The highlight of this concert are the two short fanfares, one by Adolphus Hailstork, a professor of music at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and the other by Kathryn Bostic, who is becoming well known for her film scores. Both are reminiscent of Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and just as celebratory.
In his recorded pre-concert talk, Richman described Bostic’s “Portrait of a Peaceful Warrior” as “muscular, melodic and jazzy, and fluid and exciting.” “It makes you want to live in that sound,” he said.
And when it is over, listeners want to shout out, “Play it again, Lucas.”
Hailstork’s “An American Fanfare,” written in 1985, echoes the opening of Copeland’s piece but the opening flourishes are provided by the horns, rather than the French horns as in Copeland’s famous piece.
Beethoven composed five marches for military wind bands between 1809 and 1816 on commission, according to the BSO’s program notes. “Zapfenstreich” took its title from a chalk line that was drawn across a tap in a tavern. If someone smudged the tap after closing hours, it could be evidence that someone attempted to pour more beer illegally when the troops should be in bed.
The piece sounds more like dance music than the John Philip Sousa marches so familiar to Americans. Beethoven’s march is more melodic although the snare drum does evoke visions of marching feet.
Woven into Weill’s score for Bertolt Brecht’s “Threepenny Opera” is the recognizable pop classic that made Bobby Darren a star — “Mack the Knife.” Brecht’s script has been described as a socialist critique of a capitalist world, but the music itself is uplifting rather than grim. It leaves listeners with a sense of hope that we all will sit together again in the not so distant future and feel the music pass over us like waves of joy.
“The Wind & Brass Spectacular” will be available for streaming through July 18. For information, visit bangorsymphony.org.