Perspective Online

A New Take on the Modern Concert Band

by Josh Byrd

The modern Concert Band/Wind Ensemble is now a primarily indoor entity, giving concerts in halls and theaters throughout the country. Its history, however, places the group outside, using the strength of the winds, brass and percussion to entertain audiences without the need for amplification.

The Modern Concert Band On Friday, March 28, the UWG Wind Ensemble decided to do a “flash mob,” performing the Washington Post march by John Philip Sousa on the Square in Carrollton, Georgia. While the Wind Ensemble plays outdoor concerts every now and then, this was an opportunity to perform alongside community members in a venue that doesn’t typically logistically work.

The results of the flash mob were tremendous. Musically, the group did a fantastic job, and I think the community members who happened to be in the area at the time really enjoyed their playing. On a deeper level, however, there was a sense of pride that permeated the entire event.

When I first spoke to the ensemble about this concept they had no idea what to expect. We worked for a few minutes a week tweaking the march, altering its format to allow it to play out more theatrically. The students had to put in extra time to memorize the music (something not typically required of a normal performance), learn their cues and entrances, and rehearse the march in a completely abnormal fashion. They knew they were working towards something important, but it wasn’t until the day of the performance that they understood exactly how special.

After a dress rehearsal the students—wearing tuxedos and concert dresses—boarded buses and headed towards downtown. We hid out in the alley behind the Corner Café, getting more than our fair share of glances. After seeing the professional camera crew set up and noticing how many people were enjoying the square that Friday, the students started to envision what was about to happen. I remember when I explained the flash mob concept to them in January; the typical response was, “we're pretty busy, but okay... we’ll do it.” After playing that afternoon, every student was disappointed that we didn’t have more performances lined up!

It was such a privilege to play on the Square, going to the audience instead of asking them to come to us. It was fun to surprise people with four minutes of music, giving them a fun way to kick off their weekends. It let the city of Carrollton know the quality of music that takes place at UWG as well as the quality of student that we have on campus. After all of their hard work the students were excited and ready to play again. While this was the only flash mob occurrence of the spring, look for more of these to crop up in Carrollton and the surrounding area in the future. Making someone happy is a wonderful feeling. For the students in the UWG Wind Ensemble, the opportunity to do it through music makes it all the more special.

See a video of the flash mob here.

Josh Byrd is the director of bands.

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