BY M. SCOTT MORRIS
Violinists may sit in the audience for the next Tupelo Symphony Orchestra performance because there will be no room on stage.
The same goes for all string musicians. TSO's Jan. 24 concert, “Trumpeting in the New Year,” will be a celebration of brass, woodwinds and percussion.
“We've been doing these symphonic winds concerts for a number of years,” said Margaret Anne Murphey, the symphony's executive administrator. “The main reason we do them is because they're always so popular with the audience, especially with people who played in band in school.”
TSO tapped one of its own to conduct the program. David East is a trombone player who also serves as the symphony's personnel manager, which means he's responsible for filling the orchestra's seats with qualified musicians, but that's not why he was asked to conduct.
He's also director of bands at Itawamba Community College and has 25 years of conducting junior high school, high school and college bands.
“This will be my first time to conduct the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra,” he said. “It's very exciting, and I tried to pick a range of music so there's something everyone will like. There will be some surprises, too.”
East's chance at conducting began when he invited TSO Music Director Louis Lane to hear the ICC band in action. Murphey said that before the visit Lane made it clear he would be giving his honest opinion.
“David said, Yes, sir, I'm willing to take the chance,'” Murphey said. “Mr. Lane, who is very stingy with his compliments, couldn't say enough good things about David and the orchestra. Of course, he offered some pointers, too, but Mr. Lane was very impressed.”
Now, East is concerned with impressing the audience, as well as the musicians. The first step toward those ends was selecting music. He has three criteria: The music has to be good, pleasing to the audience and challenging to the musicians.
“If you can do all three then you've covered all your bases,” he said.
The program includes marches, tone poems, novelty songs, rags and more.
John Philip Sousa is best known for his marches, but East said he thinks people will be pleasantly surprised by Sousa's rag, “Willow Blossoms.”
“If you can imagine a park in the 1890s with a community band playing, that's what it sounds like,” he said.
J.S. Bach's “Fantasia and Fugue” was originally written for organ, but it's been arranged for symphonic winds. East called the result “very lush and fantastic.”
Audiences also will hear the woodwind section put to the test on Leroy Anderson's “Fiddle-Faddle.”
“It features our woodwinds and they have to play extremely fast and use a lot of technique,” East said. “It's going to be good.”
Including intermission, the symphonic winds concert will last about an hour and a half, but East advises the audience to leave room for a few surprises.
“I want to invite everyone who likes good band music to come to the concert,” he said. “You'll be very entertained.”