Let’s Play Two: Mat-Su Concert Band Doubles Holiday Concert

Contributed by Zaz Hollander

Mat-Su Band Holiday Concert
December 16-17, 2016 – 7:30PM
Mat-Su Concert Band
Glenn Massay Theater, Palmer
Tickets: $5 Students, $10 General

For the first time in its history, the Mat-Su Concert Band will play two holiday concerts to give everyone the chance to hear this always-popular event. 

The band will play concerts Friday, Dec. 16th and Saturday, Dec. 17th at the Glenn Massay Theater at Mat-Su College. Both concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m.

The program features a variety of traditional Christmas and holiday songs and carols, as well as a range of festive pieces that highlight the sounds of the season. The concert will also include a special performance from the band’s virtuoso trumpet section: “Bugler’s Holiday” by Leroy Anderson, a perennial favorite with a bright, fast-paced cornet trio perfect for the season. 

The audience is invited to join in a sing-along of familiar tunes. 

The concerts have an intermission. There will be a small admission fee at the door. Tickets are $10 each, but $5 for students and children under five get in free. Tickets can be purchased online at www.matsuconcertband.org.

Holiday classics on the program include “Russian Christmas Music” by Alfred Reed, a piece commissioned in 1944 for a concert to improve Soviet-American relations that’s become a staple of the symphonic band holiday repertoire for good reason: The 15-minute composition is a lovely yet haunting piece of music that evokes the northern forest and the strength of its people. 

“March of the Toys” from the 1903 operetta “Babes in Toyland” by Victor Herbert is a fun, seasonal classic based on a musical comedy about two children who escape a miserly uncle to the splendor of Toyland, where Mother Goose holds sway. The music evokes the stiff-legged movements of the dolls and the joy of a fairytale Christmas.

The audience can try to guess the holiday classics embedded in a mournful cloak in “Minor Alterations: Christmas Through the Looking Glass” by David Lovrien, a medley of traditional tunes transposed from major to minor keys and further disguised to create a musical game of holiday hide-and-seek.

The band will perform several more contemporary holiday works. Among them is “Primavera: Beautiful Mountain Winds”, a 2008 work by Japanese composer, Satoshi Yagisawa, that evokes the wintry breezes of the season with brilliant arpeggios interspersed with expressive passages.

“Festival Fanfare for Christmas” by John Wasson is a modern take on a number of well-known Christmas melodies including “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Joy to the World” that once again highlights the trumpet section. 

The band got its start in 1984 as the Mat-Su Community Band, formed by Matanuska Music owner, Hank Hartman. Other directors have included Neil Long and Phil Munger. 

Current director, Gleo Huyck, is a retired music educator and private instructor. Under Huyck’s baton, the band performs a wide-ranging selection of challenging music. The band this season numbers about seventy amateur musicians who assemble every Monday night for rehearsals at Teeland Middle School.