Metro Concert Band concert brightens Holidays for hundreds

Want to see a really big, ‘Big Band’? Find out why so many people attend the twice-a-year concerts of the Portland Metro Concert Band at David Douglas High School …

Co-conductor Jay Burchak conducts the Portland Metro Concert Band during their winter concert.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Portland Metro Concert Band Holiday Concert played to a full house on December 18, starting promptly at 7:30 p.m. at the Horner Performing Arts Center at David Douglas High School. And, they started as they usually do – with a stirring rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.

The band is co-conducted by two veteran musicians, Jay Burchak and Jack Mahoney, who stepped in when long-time bandleader Fev Pratt took a hiatus from the podium for health reasons.

“We play the classics, marches, and symphonic band music,” Burchak said. “We’re here for folks who love listening to good, live music.”

The trombone section, staffed by Ken Rideout, Don Adamson, and Tammy Wright, give the band a strong mellow-sounding bass line.

Mahoney added that the band also provides an opportunity for mature musicians to play in a big band setting. “Some of our musicians are professionals. And, we welcome people who want to continue to play music, and to be part of a concert band, long after they’ve graduated from high school and college.”

The first half of the program, conducted by Jay Burchak, included Mozart’s first one-movement overture, performed in Salzburg in 1775, Il Re Pastore. Also featured was the suite composed to reflect Florida villas – called Iberian Escapades.

Larry Wainright plays classic clarinet passages during “A Tribute to Artie Shaw”.

Then, the group turned its talent to an homage of Artie Shaw, playing Dancing in the Dark, Begin the Beguine, Stardust and Frenesi. Rounding out the first half of the show, the band offered Holiday favorites – including A Christmas Portrait and A Most Wonderful Christmas.

This band plays classic (not so much classical) music enjoyed by people of all ages.

Under the baton of Jack Mahoney, the band started off their segment with Pan American March, and handily impressed the audience with their rendition of music from My Fair Lady penned by Frederick Loewe. Then Beguine for Flutes featured soloists Kathie McNett, Nora Taylor, and Melanie Maxon.

After La Mascarada, another paso doble – a lively style of duple meter music frequently used for ballroom dancing – the concert band offered up Holiday favorites, including Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Feliz Navidad, and a Christmas sing-along.

Co-conductors Jack Mahoney, and Jay Burchak invite you to the next Metro Concert Band concert, which is scheduled for May.

The Portland Metro Concert Band is supported by a grant from the Multnomah County Cultural Coalition and the Oregon Cultural Trust, and performs at community events, and at schools, throughout the year.

To view the Metro Concert Band website, CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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