Butler University Wind Ensemble Director Michael Colburn was given a frightful task -- to create a concert that coincidentally landed on Halloween. With a good sense of humor, he chose Angels andDemons as the show. So for two hours a day, three days a week, the university's Wind Ensemble has practiced for one a show so entertaining it's scary, some say. The free performance will be tomorrow evening at the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts.
"You want to choose carefully what theme you want to build a program around, but for Halloween there's just so much great music to choose from," Colburn says. "It's not like I had to dumb down this concert because of the theme."
The program will feature music from the Masque by Kenneth Hesketh and the Oscar-winning suite The Devil and Daniel Webster by Bernard Herrmann. Butler professor of violin Davis Brooks is featured as a soloist during the Theme from Young Frankenstein by Camille Saint-Saens.
Then there's the piece that the ensemble is particularly buzzing about: Godzilla Eats Las Vegas by Eric Whitacre. And though the musicians are happy to host a more playful set, they're quick to point out that just because the theme is light-hearted doesn't mean their performance is any less professional.
"It's a good amount of good cheese and some serious heavy stuff," junior Andrew Steck, the trumpet section leader, says. "A little bit of cheesy stuff is good as long as it's good cheesy stuff."
"You can tell right from the title that it's not a real serious piece," Colburn says. "This definitely is a light-hearted piece. Basically, we're going from Bernard Herrmann's award-winning film music to this music that is written for an imaginary film."
Junior Brenna Giazzon, the horn section leader for the ensemble, focuses on perfection -- enthusiastic about playing perfectly for the performance.
"We're playing a lot of repertoire right now, and there's some stuff I've played and some stuff I've never been exposed to," Giazzon says. "So having so many pieces to prepare in about a month and a half is overwhelming; but it's also very encouraging that [Colburn] he thinks you're capable of doing that."
Although this is Colburn's first year at Butler, Steck says the Wind Ensemble is enthusiastic about the director he chose for this concert.
"There's angels and demons, there's monsters, there's witches," Steck says. "He did a really good job at putting together, what I think is a pretty balanced program, but one that also has a good enough variety -- the story and the imagery and the actual sound of the music."
Colburn continues to embrace the "newness" of the latest post in his career. His city, school, job, students and even his house are all new.
But his knowledge of music is not.
Colburn was with the United States Marine Band as a euphonium player and later became the band's 27th director in 2004. He said it was a great job and that he loved every second of it, but nothing lasts forever.
After a decade as director, Colburn thought it was best to pass the baton. And he's glad he did, saying he really likes the looks of where Butler's School of Music is heading -- especially from his vantage point.
"I've done a lot of master classes and guest conducting throughout my time in the marine band, so I've had a chance to see what students are like on different campuses," he says. "I just really liked the vibe of the students here at Butler. They really seem to understand that they are here to learn, and they really want to get the most out of their experience."
If you'd like to experience their passion for performing and enjoy some warmth on a bone-chillingly cold Halloween, visit the Howard L. Schrott Center tomorrow evening.