After opening with Gustav Holsts classic Moorside March, an energetic fanfare by a recognized master of band writing, the group transitioned into the quiet, lyrical lines of Down a Country Lane. Aaron Copland, famous for creating a uniquely American sound in his music, wrote this brief, reflective work on a commission from Life magazine in 1962.
Adding a bit of spice to an otherwise English/American program, the band then moved on to Russian composer Peter Tchaikovskys Suite from The Sleeping Beauty. This work, which contains several famous themes from the composers 1890 ballet score, has been described as music from the hand of a real master at the height of his genius.
A lesser-known work, Prologue, by American composer Morton Gould, was next on the Valhalla program. Originally written as theme music for the 1964 CBS television series World War I, the work is as a gut-wrenching musical evocation of the pain and tragedy of the war to end all wars.
Next, composer Holmquist took the podium to conduct the world premiere of his new work Light of Olympus. A stirring exploration of a catchy, heroic tune, Olympus is described by Holmquist as a spirited piece that creates a sense of light through music.
The five-minute work was well-received by the audience, and Holmquist appeared pleased with the performance. It was a thrill and an honor to hear the piece and work on it with a group like Valhalla that plays music for all the right reasons, he said.
Although most of the other works on the program were conducted by Vork and Hartjes, the following piece, Suite from Superman, was led by Vorks sister Lauren Vork 06. For her first large-ensemble conducting experience, she tackled this thrilling medley of themes from John Williamss popular score to the 1978 film Superman.
The next piece, the whimsical Julian Kandahar theme from the British television program Wallace and Gromit, was programmed due to popular demand by Valhalla members. Back in September, Vork said, I mentioned to the band that I had Wallace and Gromit, and they all said they really wanted to play it.
The following work, David Holsingers mixed-meter extravaganza Havendance, proved to be a tour-de-force display of the capabilities of the student-run band. To conclude the concert, the groups President, Haley Clark 04, conducted an arrangement of Ralph Manuels Alleluia, the traditional Valhalla Band closing number.
Founded in 1997 by James Miller 01 and Jayce Ogren 01, the Valhalla Band offers a musical opportunity for students who do not want to audition for an official ensemble or did not qualify for one. The group, which is not affiliated with the Music Department, is entirely student-organized, rehearses once a week on Sunday afternoons, and requires no audition.
What I find unique about this band is that people are here purely because they want to be here, said Erin Vork.