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Concert Review

Pioneer Press
November 10, 2005

North Shore Concert Band smashing at 50

BY DOROTHY ANDRIES
CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC

There are bands and then there is the North Shore Concert Band. The 110-member ensemble opened its 50th season Sunday afternoon at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall and the program was a smashing success.

The concert began with Huldigungsmarsch by Wagner, who wrote beautifully for brass.

Whatsoever Things..., based on Northwestern's alma mater, was next. The piece was written by Mark Camphouse, who studied conducting with band founder John P. Paynter at Northwestern. It contained a fine brass choral of the hymn-like song, which dates to Haydn and was incorporated into a piece by Brahms.

The woodwinds had a chance to show their dexterity in the First Suite by Gustav Holst. It was brilliant music for a gray November day and just might have been the reason the sun was finally out by intermission.

Thompson was a marvel on the podium, her authority shining forth in every gesture. Clad in simple black slacks and black blouse, she shaped the phrases gracefully with her left hand and wielded the baton precisely with her right. Her pride in the ensemble was evident with every bow.

Star of the show was trumpeter Allen Vizzutti, who wore a coat partially decorated with purple sequins and glitter. And glitter he did, with a stunning performance of his own composition titled The Rising Sun. Evoking Japanese sounds, it was full of dazzling trills and Vizzutti played a cadenza of amazing virtuosity. One segment was called "The Bullet Train" and he took the band on a merry ride, but they proved dauntless.

His much calmer encore, Ode for Trumpet by Alfred Reed, gave us a sense of his skills as a soulful player as well.

The program concluded with the Finale from David Maslanka's Second Symphony. "If you like roller coasters, you'll love this," Thompson told the audience, and the ensemble embarked on a crash, boom, bam-bam piece that galloped along at breakneck speed.

It was a thrilling conclusion to a first-rate concert by an ensemble with a golden track record, fearlessly launching itself into the future, full speed ahead.