BandTogether performed its Annual Spring Pops Concert at Washington University's 560 Music Center Saturday night, featuring music from the television show, “Glee.” The music ranged from rock classics like Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen to the more symphonic music of Les Miserable, by French composer Claude-Michel Schonberg.
Approximately 800 people filled the seats at the Desmond Lee Concert Hall for the free concert, and they were not disappointed. The band managed to hold the audience with varied selections that sometimes reached out on a tender, emotional level, and then contrasted with a rousing, foot-stomping selection.
The music was chosen not because of the popularity of “Glee,” but because the show has generated a huge interest in arts education by high school students nationwide, according to a BandTogether spokesman.
BandTogether is a volunteer organization, and membership is open to performers of all abilities. Allthough the bands overall purpose is to provide musical opportunities to members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance (GLBTA) community, it is open to all regardless of orientation.
All of BandTogether's concerts are free.
With such a large band—over 100 musicians—creating a unified sound is a challenge. Add in musicians of any ability, and it's a potential nightmare. The evening did not look promising during the first selection of songs by the rock group, Journey. The performance was clunky and rough, but fortunately this would turn out to be mere opening song jitters. The band redeemed itself admirably for the remainder of the evening.
On the selections from Les Miserable, the band captured the emotional aspects of the music, from the sublime to humorous, which made for one of the more memorable medleys of the evening. Similarly, Flight of the Bumble Bee offered an excellent performance of classical music, featuring an impressive flute solo as the Bee.
The rock music was handled admirably as well. Imagine by John Lennon and Cindy Lauper's hit, True Colors, were both performed with sensitivity and tenderness, and the band even managed to perform Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody with flair.
Fans of old-style big band music were appeased as well. Two of the songs, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and On the Sunny Side of the Street, featured female vocalists, a first for BandTogether. Both ladies performed admirably.
A rousing rendition of Benny Goodman's hit, Sing, Sing, Sing, nearly brought the house down with some impressive drum work by co-director of BandTogether, Jeff Girard. Girard also shared conducting duties with founder and director, Gary Reynolds, who conducted the piece with style.
The finale featured a superlative performance of Don't Rain on my Parade, which brought the audience to its feet in a standing ovation. BandTogether followed with an encore and glee club favorite, Bad Romance by Lady Gaga.
Naturally, there were occasional rough moments during the show, and a few flubbed notes on solos, but all in all, it was an impressive evening that often achieved excellence.
BandTogether reaches into the American experience, where a group of individuals come together to create a greater entity. What is more impressive is that many of the musicians may not have played in a band before, or ever had a solo. But here they are, giving it their best and often achieving something truly special.