American road trip concert from East to West Coast

On Saturday 13 May we went on a musical journey in our American Road Trip concert. Travelling from East to West, we treated our audience to the sights and sounds of America, and the taste of a delicious doughnut in the interval! 

Our most challenging programme yet

Band rehearsing on stage in theatre at The Barn

Band rehearsing in the theatre before the concert, at The Barn in Ringwood

We worked hard for five months, practising for our Spring concert. The programme was definitely the most challenging one our band has performed yet, with Simon our Conductor pushing us to be the best we can.

On the concert day we started filing in to The Barn, Ringwood School’s theatre, from 3pm to set up. Many hands make light work and we were ready to start a final rehearsal at 4pm, to get used to the stage layout, acoustics, and perfect some tricky passages.

We were eating our packed dinners at 6pm, and before we knew it we were tuning our instruments out the back and lining up to go on stage.

American road trip starts on the East Coast

We started off our journey in Washington DC with the patriotic National Emblem.

West Side Story music and oboes and clarinets on stage

Practising West Side Story before the concert

Then we explored New York through a couple of pieces. The first was New York, arranged by Hess, which had quick, light passages representing the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. The second was a selection of classics from West Side Story showing the rivalry between the Sharks and the Jets.

Next on the programme was the famous Jersey Boys which got the audience tapping along. The first half finished with a modern medley of Disney tunes including Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast.

Travelling to the West Coast

The second half opened with an upbeat rhythm and blues piece called Route 66, which represented Illinois, featuring our vocalist Lizzie. Then we journeyed through Missouri with St. Louis Blues March. Bringing the pace right down, we travelled through the Southern States with the beautiful and very powerful piece, ‘Oh Lord What a Morning’. So powerful it nearly brought people to tears.

We visited Oklahoma as we played the aptly named piece, Oklahoma. Then we explored sunny California with the famous MacArthur Park.

A monstrous Godzilla roar

Band on stage during concert at The Barn in Ringwood

On stage during the concert

The most challenging piece was in our second half and it really took us out of our comfort zone. ‘Godzilla Eats Las Vegas’ by Whitacre was bizarre to say the least! When we first got given the piece we knew it was unusual when we read directions like: “March left, right”, “Bark like a dog”, and “Quietly congratulate each other”. We had to dig deep to find our acting skills in this one!

Godzilla Eats Las Vegas tells the story of Godzilla arriving in Las Vegas and demolishing everything in his path. Every time we heard the trombones, we knew Godzilla was on his way. About two-thirds into the piece the people of the city thought they had victory over Godzilla but then, right at the end of the piece (spoiler alert), Godzilla reared his head as the trombones made a quiet roar.

Not only did the band have acting to contend with, we had to play the music in time to a video being played on a big screen behind us. The video brought this wonderfully random story to life. This required a huge amount of skill from Simon to get us playing in the right place at exactly the right time, in time with the video. We want to say a big thank you to David who put the video together, too.

A patriotic ending

As we neared the end of our American journey, we couldn’t not play the patriotic Stars and Stripes anthem, featuring a very fast piccolo passage. And of course, in true Bournemouth and District Concert Band style, we had an encore up our sleeve. We finished on a high with Is this the way to Amarillo, and our audience loved singing along!

Check out our Facebook page for more photos of our American Road Trip concert.

By Emma on flute