Knox College Chapel was filled to the brim last Friday as five ensembles offered songs to satisfy every musical taste. The evening was presented by the Skule Music Program, which is associated with the faculty of engineering but not restricted to engineering students. The program began with a stage band, founded in 1983, and that now includes a whole assortment of student-run groups including the Orchestra, Brass Ring, Jazz Combo, and Stage Band Blue.
The concert started off with the Orchestra’s skilful rendition of the first movement of Franz Schubert’s unfinished Symphony No. 8 in B. Minor. The group did an excellent job of handling the piece’s dramatic contrasts between gentle interludes and dark, sometimes frightening moments. They followed this sublime piece with a medley of light pop numbers by American composer Leroy Anderson, whose “Sleigh Ride” made many audience members smile.
The holiday theme continued with the seven-member Brass Ring, which includes two trumpets, a French horn, a trombone, and two tubas. This lively group donned Santa Claus hats and shared a number of holiday favourites, including a former group member’s arrangement of “Carol of the Bells” and a rendition of “The Huron Carol,” Canada’s oldest Christmas song. The group overcame a few rough patches in the first part of their performance to include a moving rendition of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” and “I Saw Three Ships.”
Up next was Stage Band Blue, which was created in 2007 to accommodate the growing interest in the Skule Stage Band. Consisting almost entirely of freshmen and new members, this group offered big-band style jazz tunes including a lively Latin piece called “Sandunga,” which featured excellent trumpet, piano, and saxophone solos.
The jazz theme continued with the versatile six-member Jazz Combo, whose first piece, “Then There Was One” by Torontonian Chris Terry, had an expansive, almost New Age feel to it. The group then took a funkier turn with Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” and Hoagy Carmichael’s classic, “Georgia On My Mind.” These pieces included sustained piano and drums in the background with various solo instruments in the foreground, allowing the musicians to show off their impressive improvisational skills.
The concert concluded with the Skule Stage Band, whose tunes such as “The Chicken” by Alfred James Ellis and “Tank!” by Yoko Kanno had many of us tapping our feet. Perhaps the most refined of the ensembles, the Stage Band offered a flawless conclusion to a most excellent concert.
Looking for more Skule tunes this month? Upcoming events include the Skule Choir Concert and Sing-Along on Dec. 3, the Jazz Combo at Suds on Dec. 4, and the Engineering Science 75th Anniversary Concert on Dec. 17 with Isabel Bayrakdarian and Julian Kuerti. For more information, visit skulemusic.ca.