SJC Symphonic Band plans 10-song program

Mike Easterling

FARMINGTON — An evening of classical music heavy on percussion is in store when the San Juan College Symphonic Band performs this weekend as part of the college’s Silhouette Series.

Members of the San Juan College Symphonic Band rehearse for their program this weekend that features the work of composers Satoshi Yagisawa, Gary Ziek and Samuel Hazo.

The 40-piece band, which features a number of community members in addition to SJC students, will present a 10-song program. The group will be led by Teun Fetz, assistant professor of music at the college, who said the performers will range in age from 14 to 80. The band’s lineup will be augmented by a handful of local professionals, he said.

“I think there’s a good balance of experience and talent levels,” Fetz said.

He said the 10 selections on the program vary in style, and the work of three composers in particular — Satoshi Yagisawa, Gary Ziek and Samuel Hazo — will be featured. Fetz described himself as a big fan of Hazo’s work.

“He’s one of my favorite composers,” he said of the Pittsburgh resident who was asked to compose the music for the memorial service for the students and teachers who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. “He’s been very big in music circles for the last 20 years.”

The symphony will perform Hazo’s “Our Yesterdays Lengthen Like Shadows” and “A Zillion Nickels.” Fetz said the latter is a driving piece that features a percussion section of eight to nine players, building to a stirring climax. He described the former as a slow ballad that requires a unique contribution from the symphony.

Teun Fetz

“The band actually sings,” he said. “They sing on pitch all the way through. It’s the accompaniment for a kind of emotional tune.”

Fetz said the composition begins with a single note, which is repeated throughout the song, though it becomes inaudible at a certain point as other chordal melodies move to the front before the song closes with that single note.

Hazo intends that note to serve as the listener’s lifeline, Fetz said.

Yagisawa’s “Largo” is a composition that will allow the symphony to shine, Fetz said.

“It’s kind of a really beautiful ballad,” he said. “It’s a slow piece — slow, gentle music, and the band plays it really well.”

The Japanese composer’s “Spring Sketches” was written in 2006 and is a smaller piece of a larger work, Fetz said.

“It has a lot of low (woodwind instruments) in it,” he said. “It’s a little more exotic. Because he’s a Japanese composer, he uses a lot of different harmonies and textures than American composers.”

Zeik is the band director at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kan., and much of his work is focused on the trumpet. The symphony will perform his “Luminance” and “Shock Wave.”

The former is designed to evoke a shimmering, exuberant feeling, Fetz said, though it does change moods in the middle.

“It’s kind of going from light and brightness to dark, back to light for a rousing conclusion,” he said.

“Shock Wave” is a high-energy, visceral piece, he said, creating a sense of propulsion for the listener. Its middle section offers a change of pace, adopting a more rhythmic approach, before “the percussion kind of gets the last word,” Fetz said.

Also on the program are “Yellow” by Robert W. Smith, “Yorkshire Ballad” by James Barnes and the finale, a Christmas medley titled “Yuletide Melody” by Roland Barrett.

“We felt like we should include a Christmas piece, despite the fact we’ve been rehearsing since August,” Fetz said, laughing.

The medley includes parts of several well-known Christmas classics, and it “reflects the signs, sounds and spirit of the season,” he said.

Fetz encouraged budding musicians in particular to attend the concert, explaining that any music student who provides the name of his or her music teacher at the box office will be admitted free.

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

If you go

What: The San Juan College Symphonic Band concert, part of the Silhouette Series

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18

Where: The Henderson Fine Arts Performance Hall

Tickets: $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors at the San Juan College box office or at

For more information: Call 505-566-3430