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Halloween-themed concert highlights student arrangement

by Brianna Bush - Executive Editor
Tue, Nov 5th 2019 09:00 pm
The College at Brockport's Brass Ensemble and Xylophone Ensemble (above) performed a Spooky Sounds concert where it played several pieces fitting the Halloween theme
of the event. The work also included some student arrangements in the form of a medley.
The College at Brockport's Brass Ensemble and Xylophone Ensemble (above) performed a Spooky Sounds concert where it played several pieces fitting the Halloween theme of the event. The work also included some student arrangements in the form of a medley.

 In honor of the Halloween season, The College at Brockport’s Xylophone Ensemble and Brass Ensemble performed an array of eerily arranged music during its Spooky Sounds concert Wednesday, Oct. 30 in Tower Fine Arts. 

The night started off with the Brass Ensemble led by Professor Natalie Fuller Ph.D., playing an arrangement of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” composed by Freddie Mercury and arranged by Steven Verhaert. Each instrument’s sound entangled with the other, producing a clear melody and harmony. 

An interesting turn of events during the concert was a piece that was arranged by Brockport student Justin Goulette. Inspired by the “Godzilla” franchise, Goulette had arranged a medley for the group to perform. 

“I actually got the inspiration to arrange the piece after watching and listening to the songs of the “Godzilla” franchise, the one that came out earlier this year,” Goulette said. “After watching the film, I thought the soundtrack was good — so I thought to myself, ‘this would sound great with the Brass Ensemble.’” 

Goulette took music from the 2014 installment, the “Classic Godzilla” and another piece from the 1954 movie. Goulette also let the audience know that it was the 65th anniversary of the 1954 film. 

Fuller likes to encourage all of her students to suggest the music they play during concerts, just like Goulette came forward with an idea for a “Godzilla” medley. 

“Justin approached me at the beginning of the semester to let me know he’d been working on the “Godzilla” medley all summer and it was almost ready to go,” Fuller said. “I listened to the recording and took a look at the music and knew it would be a lot of fun to do and was the perfect fit of challenging without being too hard. It also fits the theme of the fall concert so we were able to program it right away.” 

Fuller explained the importance of choosing music musicians will enjoy working on, but will also challenge their abilities — she chooses music that will “stretch their horizons of what is ‘cool’ and can be learned in time for the concert.” 

The Brass ensemble finished with a selection of music from “The Sound of Music,” creating another medley of recognizable songs for the crowd to enjoy. 

After the Brass Ensemble finished its last note, the stage quickly switched over, setting up for the Xylophone Ensemble. Many of the members of the ensemble were dressed in Halloween costumes — varying from dead rock musicians to the “Star Wars” character Chewbacca. 

The group was conducted by professor Natalie Sarrazin Ph.D., and like Fuller, she took to the “spooky theme” and comprised a list of music that supported it. 

“Sometimes I don’t do a Halloween theme, but many times I do,” Sarrazin said. “Last year we did a lot of movie themes like “Halloween,” “Beetlejuice,” etc. It went very well, so we went with a Halloween theme again. I have to try to balance the repertoire and the amount of time we have to practice, the level of talent in the groups — we have an advanced ensemble and regular ensemble — so songs have to be accessible as well as cover a range of music genres.” 

This year the Xylophone Ensemble played songs like “Hall of the Mountain King,” “Paint it Black,” “Halloween Dance” and “Danse Macabre” with each song featuring an eerie element to it. Fuller explained that each play also had different elements to it, giving the audience an array of different styles of music. 

“Paint it Black” featured a rock-based element, while “Danse Macabre” brought a ghoulish theme to the show. 

“I think the thought that goes into the range of pieces, the balance, variety, and the excitement,” Sarrazin said. “The song “Halloween Dance” was an extremely challenging, huge piece which needed extra musicians that had to come in. When the students were working on it during the week, it didn’t sound like much, but when the additional percussion came in, nobody could believe how amazing it sounded.” 

Sarrazin was very happy with the way the concert turned out and expressed how proud she was of her students. 

“I thought it went extremely well,” Sarrazin explained. “Of course there will be mistakes made, but the enthusiasm and dedication from the students is evident. Given our limited time with these pieces, I think it went very well.” 

Both the Brass Ensemble and the Xylophone Ensemble are open to anyone who is interested, and with registration coming up, the concert acts as a taste of what students can put together. 

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Shot by Staff Photographer
Mathieu Starke

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