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Spanish sojourn

Tacoma Concert Band prepares for trip with send-off sounds

Clarinetist Christopher Sereque will be one of the soloists at Tacoma Concert Band’s “Bon Voyage” concert. Photo credit: Tacoma Concert Band

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For some readers, the phrase "concert band" conjures vivid memories. One strain of a Sousa march may be enough to remind us of strutting around in fuzzy hats playing "Baby Elephant Walk" for unimpressed football fanatics. Out here in the real world, concert band encompasses a variety of genres and forms. For a stirring example of said diversity, one need look no further than the Tacoma's 60-piece Concert Band.

"I founded the band in 1981," says director and conductor Robert Musser, Professor Emeritus of the University of Puget Sound. "We played our first few seasons at Stadium High School. Then we moved to the Broadway Center, and we've been playing the Pantages ever since."

The ensemble has already been on two European tours. "The first was to France in '07," Musser recalls. "That was so successful, and everyone had such a good time, that ... in 2011, we took a trip to Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary."

No sooner had the band arrived home than its members began planning their upcoming Spanish excursion. "You have to plan for about two years for one of these things," Musser notes. "We got an invitation to compete in a contest in Spain, the International Wind Band Contest held in Valencia. It's one of the oldest contests in the world."

These working vacations are entirely self-supported, Musser explains. "The members pay their own way. We have no funding of any kind from any other source."

To launch the tour in style, the Tacoma Concert Band will present its "Bon Voyage" concert at Pierce College, July 8. "We're playing three pieces in that (Valencia) contest; we'll play those also in Puyallup. One is called ‘Andròmeda,' which is a contemporary composition just composed in 2015 for this particular contest.

The composer (Saül Gómez Soler) is Spanish, and he used the Greek myth of Perseus and Andromeda as a takeoff ... 'Northwest Passages' is by an American composer (Aldo Rafael Forte), who was commissioned to write this piece for our 35th-anniversary concert ... We'll also play a Spanish paso doble, (the Krance arrangement of) ‘Lola Flores.'"

The Pierce College program adds Williams' Theme From Superman,' a Gershwin medley, a Broadway medley, and several marches. Featured soloists are Jason Gilliam on euphonium, trumpeter Morris Northcutt and trombonist Bill Dyer in duet, and clarinetist Christopher Sereque. As the Spanish say, ¡buen viaje!

BON VOYAGE CONCERT, 7:30 p.m. Wed., July 8, 1601 39th Ave. SE, Pierce College, Puyallup, $10, 253.864.3202

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