Reveille, that spirited international trumpet fanfare, has been Americas wake-up call for a long time.
Sunday afternoon at the Community Concert Hall, Reveille appeared in the middle of a sparkling family concert. The San Juan Symphony opened its 2011-12 season with a program called American Salute. The timing was perfect a thoughtful patriotic concert for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.
Music Director Arthur Post anticipated a mixed mood for the day. At the beginning, he acknowledged the depth of the tragedy and programmed both dark and light music.
Post began by asking everyone to stand and sing the Star Spangled Banner. It seems all too rare these days. Post followed with one of John Philip Sousas most rousing marches, The Thunderer.
With a number of families in the audience, Post capitalized on the presence of youngsters. He asked the kids if they could identify the melody of the hauntingly ambiguous Civil War song When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again. It took a number of guesses, including near misses like When the Saints Go Marching In, before one youngster came close.
Then Post asked what the young people thought of the minor key and apparently sunny text. Neither happy nor sad, but somewhere in between is what various youngsters said.
So the orchestra played composer Morton Goulds dramatic series of variations. Big and intense, When Johnnie Comes Home turned out to be the dark heart of the concert, perfectly appropriate on the Sept. 11 anniversary. Music can clarify and distill human experience. Thats what the powerful Gould arrangement did for this concert.
The remainder of the program turned toward uplift and celebration.
Post scheduled selections from American movie scores, most notably the flying scene from E.T. and a medley from the last Indiana Jones movie. A beautiful musical summary of Les Miserables brought back the epic proportions of Victor Hugos novel.
For contrast, the orchestra played a rollicking arrangement of Rock Around the Clock. Even the strings got into the toe-tapping universe of offbeats usually dominated by percussion and brass sections.
And then there was Leroy Andersons high voltage Buglers Holiday. Its a virtuosic work for trumpet trio backed by full orchestra. Farmingtons stellar Mick Hesse and Halie Silverman were joined by new Fort Lewis trumpet professor Marc Reed. Together, they dazzled the audience. This was the mid-concert wake-up call with bits of the original bugle call appearing here and there, then rolling full blast into a bright finish.
At the end of the concert, after standing and singing America the Beautiful, the audience spontaneously stood and clapped throughout Sousas Stars and Stripes Forever. Post, who encouraged audience participation throughout the concert, signaled when and where to clap loudly or cease and desist. The audience happily complied.
What could have been a somber concert became a communal celebration of our homeland and our history. Yes, I wish you had all been there.
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.