Bright lights, big sound

Marci Kacsir

About 800 people shuffled from freezing weather into Van Meter Auditorium and warmed up to the hot performance put on by the Western band department for its annual PRISM concert Friday.

When the lights dimmed on the audience, murmurs were hushed. The circling mirror ball lights were all that could be seen.

The audiences’ eyes followed the spotlights that moved to bands placed at different positions on the stage and on the balconies.

With the variety of lights came a diverse selection of music.

Bess Taylor, a sophomore French horn player from Memphis, Tenn., said the concert shows the diversity of the band in that the members can play different kinds of music.

“The structure is a lot different than any other concert,” she said.

The unique synthesis of music and light was a nice surprise for spectators.

“What I liked the most was the incredible variety of music presented,” said psychology professor Patty Randolph.

The show began calmly with the symphonic band, then flowed into the steel drum performance of music instructor Mark Berry’s original composition, “Mare Tranquillitatus.”

Soon afterward, the jazz ensemble roused the audience with an energetic rendition of “Caravan.”

The audience clapped and sang along with the saxophone quartet that played “My Girl” and the funk band that played “I Feel Good” by James Brown.

The main piece of the show, “Evolution,” gave the audience its overview of music history. The music began with a monastery chant, moved through medieval music and eventually made its way to modern American songs. Famous tunes like “The Entertainer” could be picked out from among the melodies while the stage lights faded from color to color.

Besides listening to the music, the audience laughed at the concert’s various theatrics.

The Big Red hillbilly band won the crowd’s favor with songs from “O Brother Where Art Thou?” They danced and yelped in floppy straw hats, scarves and fake beards, and sang in thick Southern accents.

“They were great,” Bowling Green sophomore Ashley Hill said.

The basketball band had the audience on its feet during “Stand Up and Cheer.”

“It was a really nice change-up in tempo and style,” Randolph said. “It reenergized the crowd.”

The bassoon and tuba duo of Jay Hagy, a senior from Hendersonville, Tenn., and Nashville senior Tyler Rice got some laughs as they picked on each other while playing their song.

A band member rode a tricycle in pajamas and fuzzy slippers while blowing bubbles as the percussion ensemble played a Charleston-like tune.

John Carmichael, Western’s director of bands, led the symphonic band through the final piece of the concert, which ended in a standing ovation from the audience.

Russellville senior Josh Hunt, a member of the percussion ensemble, said his favorite part of the show was the funk band’s performance.

“It went a lot better than rehearsal,” Hunt said.

Carmichael said he was pleased with the performance, despite the trying temperature of Van Meter Hall. The chill affected the instruments, and it was somewhat of a miracle that every ensemble managed to play in tune, he said.

Too busy to enjoy the show while it played out, Carmichael said he couldn’t relax until it was over. But when it ended, he knew the show went well.

“Putting on a show is kind of like running a marathon,” he said. “But the joy is the show and sharing it with other people.”

Reach Marci Kacsir at [email protected]