By John Anderson

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Steven Riley directs the Auburn High School Band at a recent rehearsal. © John R. Anderson

The grade 6-12 Fall Band Concert will be tomorrow at 7:00pm in the Auburn High School Auditorium. The Middle School Band will perform selections with the theme “British Invasion” and will feature special guest conductor Jonathan Brennand.

The High School Band will present “Modern Marvels,” featuring works by modern band composers. Dr. Steven Riley, Director of Bands at The College of the Holy Cross, will be the guest conductor for Shimmer, written by Aaron Perrine in 2005. Riley and Perrine studied together at the University of Iowa where each earned a PhD in Music.

Perrine is an Assistant Professor of Music at Cornell College in Iowa and is an up and coming band composer. In 2013, he received the prestigious Sousa/Ostwald Award from the American Bandmasters Association for his composition Pale Blue on Deep. Dr. Riley told Auburn Mass Daily, “Orchestral music is based on classical music. Band music embraces new compositions.”

Auburn Mass Daily was invited to a rehearsal last week as Riley worked with the students for the third time. Shimmer is a very complex piece of music with different sections of the band often conflicting with each other. Riley said, “The trumpets aren’t helping the clarinets.”

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Steven Riley directs the Auburn High School Band at a recent rehearsal. © John R. Anderson

During the first part of the period, Riley worked with the woodwinds in the auditorium while Auburn High Band Director Virginia Bailey rehearsed the brass and percussion sections in the band room. When the sections combined, the full complexity of Shimmer became obvious. Riley’s assessment of the music, “There’s a huge dynamic contrast in small amount of space.”

Bailey said this is, by far, the most difficult piece the band has tackled during her tenure. Shimmer was written with college level musicians in mind. As for how to perform this composition, Riley told the students, “Imagine you’re trying to peel the paint off the back wall of the auditorium.”

We’ll have to see about that on Thursday night.