Navy band leads worldly musical tour From Russian to Latin, selections wow listeners

March 05, 1998|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It's easy to forget how much terrific talent sits under our noses, ready to entertain us at free public concerts.

I was reminded of that Friday when I attended a performance by the percussion ensemble of the Naval Academy Band at Mitscher Hall on the academy campus.

Six percussionists from what is billed as "The Navy's Oldest and Finest Band" were joined by five members of the Marine and Air Force bands to present this evening of remarkable music-making.

Several of the lighter selections had the participants hammering away on their xylophones in compositions by George Hamilton Green, whose music was inspired by turn-of-the-century ragtime sounds.

Selections such as "Dotty Dimples" and "Xylophonia" provided bright, rhythmic fare that had the large, appreciative audience tapping its toes in approval.

The same instruments also sparked listeners with Latin offerings such as Rosales' "Bolero" and Frosini's "Jolly Caballero."

But the real stunners of the evening came via Russia and Hawaii.

In "Field of the Dead," taken from Prokofiev's film score "Lieutenant Kije," the players used bells and other instruments to re-create the icy Russian atmosphere of the orchestral version with eerie fidelity.

In "Ku-Ka-Ilimoku," the Hawaiian god of war made a menacing appearance, conjured up by tom-toms, bass drums, timpani, cymbals, gongs and chimes.

What an energizing concert. My wife and daughter left the hall and ran back to the car, laughing every step of the way.

My son, Benjamin, a percussion student, ambled more slowly, the better to share his assessment of the concert with his old man. "Dad," he concluded, "those guys are awesome."

Never argue with an 11-year-old. Especially when he's right.

Pub Date: 3/05/98

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