RCC provides musical journey

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By Erin Tobin


By Erin Tobin

For only a short time, in the dark theater that is called Landis Auditorium, a small audience went on a fantastic trip around the world.

Now this Oct. 17 trip was started at 4 p.m. by Riverside Community College’s own, quite accomplished, Wind Ensemble, but it was a guest artist who introduced the audience to a new wonder of the modern world.

This guest, Larry Zalkind, is a man who can actually make the trombone sing.

It wasn’t a cheap parlor trick, but amazing feat of musical ability. Zalkind took a horn usually reserved for parades (in groups of 76, of course) and swing bands and played it with the tranquil and expressive quality usually possessed by woodwinds like the flute.

Even the ensemble’s director, Kevin Mayes, who has certainly heard a lot of trombone playing, admitted he had never heard the instrument sound so lovely until he heard Zalkind play.

It’s a good thing that when Zalkind started band, his school was out of trumpets.

The audience’s Western Europe leg of the trip consisted of the band accompanying Zalkind while he created melodic magic during Author Pryor’s “Blue Bells of Scotland” and Thomas Moore’s tranquil Irish melody, “‘Tis the Last Rose of Summer.”

Zalkind’s playing was, for those who need a blunt statement, fun. He has energy and emotion that couldn’t be missed. It was even picked up by the trombone players in the wind ensemble. They played with grins and shocked expressions after listening to Zalkind.

The male members of the ensemble lent their voice to the Latin verses in “Ave Maria,” a piece that was originally written by Franz Biebl for an a cappella men’s choir but was arranged for wind ensembles by Robert Cameron.

Singing and the irony of playing a piece written for a group that sings without music are characteristics of RCC wind ensemble. For yet another concert they have managed to pull something out of their bag of hits to keep an audience which is not always familiar with classical music interested.

In fact, the highlight of the concert was not Zalkind’s playing, but the premier performance of a piece that brought the trip back home for a bit. Steven Schmidt’s “Southern California Portrait” manages to capture the highlights of places RCC students experience and overlook each day.

While the majestic nature of the Pacific Ocean might be a common theme to be captured through music, it is not very often a musical group can re-create the mechanical nature of City of Industry or the anticipation and fear surrounding San Andreas’s infamous fault.

With pieces like “Southern California Portrait” RCC Wind Ensemble continues to be innovative and student friendly.

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