The U.S. Army Band presents U.S., Japanese culture
October 30, 2009
- The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" hosts special guest COL Akira Takeda
On Sunday, October 25, residents of Alexandria and nearby communities were treated to a special performance by The U.S. Army Concert Band "Pershing's Own" with guest conductor, COL Akira Takeda.
COL Thomas Rotondi, Jr., welcomed his counterpart from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Central Band in a program that featured music by both Japanese and American composers.
Each piece on the program complimented one another, providing a consistent theme without being overstated. From the expansive and powerful low brass lines in James Barnes' Fifth Symphony to the intricate woodwind solos in Toshio Mashima's "Les trois notes du Japon (Scenes from Japan)", the musicians of "Pershing's Own" rose to the challenge of the demanding repertoire. Both pieces served as the anchors on the program in which Takeda and Rotondi shared conducting duties.
Mashima's "Les trois notes du Japon" is a suite for modern wind orchestra that offered glimpses into Japanese life and environment. The three movements painted images of the brilliant flourishes of Tancho cranes, pensive scenes of the Japanese winter, and the forceful energy of the Nebuta festival's drumbeats. In the final movement, the percussion section employed several instruments native to Japan. From the podium, Takeda crafted a performance that was a balance of rhythmic energy, lush expansiveness, and quiet moments of reflection.
For Rotondi's portion of the program, he chose selections from a work by a distinctly American composer. James Barnes, a professor of composition at the University of Kansas, is a prolific composer of music for concert band, and is considered to be "a master storyteller." His Fifth Symphony, subtitled "Phoenix," shares many of the same compositional devices that make Mashima's piece sound distinctly Japanese, and helped serve as a bridge between cultures.
In addition to powerful melodies heard from the Concert Band's low brass section, the work featured intricate writing executed with mastery by the trumpets, and several opportunities for some of the musicians to shine as soloists: SSG (P) Tom Bratten, tuba; MSG Andrea Artley, principal flute; SSG Amanda Jury, principal oboe; and SSG Dean Woods, bassoon.
Following the performance, Rotondi and Takeda were congratulated by special guests in attendance, including the Japanese Ambassador to the United States. COL Takeda was grateful for the opportunity to perform with "Pershing's Own" and looks forward to fostering the cultural and musical relationship with The U.S. Army Band.