concert band
March 6, 2024

Friday UCR Concert Band event features U.S. Army quintet

First-of-its-kind 'A Symphony of Service' concert also features two student conductors

J.D. Mathes
Author: J.D. Mathes
March 6, 2024

UCR’s Concert Band Director Armando Dueñas will present “A Symphony of Service: UCR Concert Band and 300th Army Band Quintet Extravaganza” on Friday, March 8.

This winter concert will be the first of this type, featuring the UCR Concert Band along with the 300th Army Band Woodwind and Brass Quintet. Dueñas plans to continue the joint concerts by featuring local high schools, colleges, and universities such as Riverside Community College, Cal Baptist University, and Azusa Pacific University with his mentor, Azusa band director John Burdett.

“These special guests will give the students the opportunity to learn from playing alongside professional musicians and raise the profile of UCR’s band and music department,” said Dueñas, who is a lecturer in the Department of Music. “A joy of regularly attending student performances is that concertgoers can be excited to witness the growth and progression of the ensemble members.”

For the program, Dueñas has selected a range of music that gives the ensemble a standard literature they can master in the short time of the 10-week semester and still challenge them so they can learn and grow as musicians.

Featured are “English Folk Song Suite” by Ralph Vaugh Williams, Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium,” Percy Grangier's "Lincolnshire Posy," David Gillingham’s arrangement of “Be Thou My Vision,” and the rousing and fitting “Stars and Stripes Forever” composed by John Phillip Sousa.

Another special treat for attendees will be watching two student conductors, Sarah Howick and Jade Woo, take the baton and lead the ensemble.

Howick is entering her fifth year and is a physics major. She will conduct the first piece of the evening, the “English Folk Song Suite.” In band practices for the March 8 concert, Howick’s energy flows through her sharp and decisive movements. She builds gesture on gesture as if a perpetual motion machine guiding the musicians.

“I see music in my future and hope to have the opportunity to conduct. I have no intention of leaving it behind to pursue science. Music will go with me wherever I go,” Howick said.

Woo, who will conduct the finale “Stars and Stripes Forever,” is a senior who will graduate this year with her degree in music. She said hopes in the future to be “conducting a professional wind ensemble or orchestra."

When asked about the most challenging aspect of conducting she responds: ”Keeping the tempo the same throughout the piece. A lot of the time, ensembles tend to slow down as the piece goes on, and it is my job to make sure they maintain the same tempo. This is difficult because it's so easy to lose the feeling of the time as we get comfortable playing the piece. Keeping an internalized metronome is essential for conducting.”

Woo employs her internal metronome when conducting. Her movements are precise, keeping the ensemble at the rousing tempo until the slight slowdown as the piece transitions toward the end. With confidence she guides each section, whether bringing in the brass or the counter-flourish played by the solo piccolo or directing them to play louder or softer.

Both students cite UCR Department of Music’s welcoming and encouraging posture in their development as conductors and musicians.

“Not only has this department provided me with classes that expanded my knowledge of music theory, but it has also provided atmosphere that promotes constant musical growth and involvement even if you are not within the department,” Howick said.

“Over the past three years, I have really grown as a musician. The music department provides most music students with private lessons, which have helped me improve at saxophone immensely. Participating in Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble these past few years has also helped me grow as a musician,” Woo said.

The Friday, March 8 concert will be held in the University Theatre, and begins at 8 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public. 

Photos by Aronne Chan/UCR

Media Contacts