Upcoming music department performances strive to provide ‘well-rounded, varied’ concerts

SIUE Orchestra, Fall of 2021

With performances back and in full swing, SIUE’s music department is ready with upcoming productions set for this fall.


John Korak, department chair of music, said Choir, Orchestra, Jazz and Concert Band are the four main areas in the department that are showcased with productions.


“The jazz area will generally feature the Concert Jazz Band, which is a traditional, larger jazz ensemble, with around 20 people give or take,” Korak said. “They will feature Jazz Combos, groups as small as three people but generally four, five or six people.” 


Korak said other upcoming performances from the music department include a Johnetta Haley memorial concert, Suzuki string concert and a faculty showcase. He said there will also be a variety of smaller performances taking place throughout the semester. 


“The university orchestra also does four concerts and there’ll be two highlights for them. One is they’ll be combining with the SIU-Carbondale orchestra for a joint concert,” Korak said. “They'll also be combining with our choirs for a performance and that usually happens in April so that’s something to look forward to.”


Korak said there will also be other events coming to SIUE this fall.


“Opera Edwardsville will be coming in December on the 10th and 11th and although it’s not a music department event, it certainly has close ties with us,” Korak said. 


Korak said there are two main performing bands that perform throughout the year. 


“In the band area, we have two performing groups, the Wind Symphony, which is our highest level of performing ensemble. We also have the Concert Band that I conduct, and those groups will be doing four concerts this year, each one having a different theme,” Korak said. 

Rubén Gómez, assistant professor in the music department, said anyone is welcome to play in either band, regardless of being a music major or not. He said it’s likely to see more non-music majors in the University Concert Band.


“Concert Band is open to everyone, with the condition that you have played your instrument in high school, that’s the only requirement,” Gómez said. “The beauty of the Concert Band is that when music majors go to that group, it’s because they want to practice their secondary instrument.”


Gómez said each performance has a theme, which makes it easier to advertise and allows the audience to better engage with the musicians. He said the first concert will be centered around visual inspirations that have inspired composers to write music and the second concert will be centered around cornerstones, or masterworks in the history of wind bands. 


Korak said there is a lot that goes into selecting music for each performance. Sometimes, the music is chosen based on what is being taught at the time that will help develop skills in a particular area that will help them grow, and other times it’s centered around a theme.


“Generally, the ensemble directors or the performers try to provide a well-rounded, varied concert that flows together where there aren't a lot of jagged, abrupt changes, but where things transition or flow, following some sort of theme or musical stylistic development,” Korak said. 


Gómez said he collects music pieces that will fit into the decided theme. He said from there, he looks at what pieces are doable based on the length of each piece and the difficulty. 


“Planning these concerts is a long process. I personally prepare my programs with a lot of time in advance,” Gómez said. “I started to prepare for this program in June and the concert is in October, so both concerts are already planned.”


Gómez said each band has around two months to practice for each performance, starting rehearsals at the beginning of the semester. He said the Concert Band spends about two and a half hours a week in rehearsals while the Wind Symphony spends five hours. 


Gómez said he enjoys seeing students from different majors come together to perform in the concerts. 

“It’s nice to see people from every major in the School of Music,” Gómez said. “It’s very interesting.”


The first concert will be taking place Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. and the second concert will be on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m.


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