Arts and Entertainment

Sousa compliments local composers

Eric McElroy is one of several local composers whose work will be performed by the North Cascades Concert Band Friday, April 17 at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center. - Courtesy photo
Eric McElroy is one of several local composers whose work will be performed by the North Cascades Concert Band Friday, April 17 at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

This year’s Sousa Program presented by the North Cascades Concert Band will feature several original compositions by members of the band, said the band’s assistant director, Rob Pattermann, who is also the assistant principal at Arlington High School.

Under the direction of Lylburn Layer and Pattermann, the program features new pieces by members of the band, including a former AHS Spanish teacher Bob LaTorre, as well as a composition by AHS junior, Eric McElroy, along with old favorites by John Philip Sousa.

“We will play our featured composers and then follow with a Sousa march or two or three,” Pattermann said.

“It’s what Sousa always did,” he added. McElroy wrote “Scherzo” in the summer of 2008.

“The piece is reminiscent of the styles of composers Percy Grainger and Sergei Prokofiev,” McElroy said, adding that he is eager to hear the NCCB’s interpretation of his work. His compositions, which include works for solo instruments, small ensembles and large ensembles, have won two national awards as well as numerous county, state and regional competitions. Most recently, his piece “Dance for Solo Piano” was a national finalist in the 2009 MTNA Composition Competition, a program of the Music Teachers’ National Association.

McElroy has studied piano for 14 years. As the first-place winner as a pianist of the regional MPMEA Solo & Ensemble competition, he will compete at the WMEA State Solo & Ensemble Contest later this month, performing “Sonata” by American composer Charles Griffes.

He plays piano for the AHS Jazzmine choir and On Hold Jazz Band and he plays horn in the AHS Wind Ensemble. He plans to study piano performance and conducting in college.

Another local composer, Bob LaTorre retired from teaching at AHS last June after 22 years with the intention of moving out of state.

“We’re still waiting for our house to sell,” LaTorre said.

“I figured I would make good use of my time by doing some composing.”

In December he composed a piece he’d been wanting to write for years.

“It’s a band accompaniment to Robert Service’s poem ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee,’” LaTorre said.

When the band performs his composition, LaTorre will act out the poem, which is Service’s most popular poem, he said.

“I know that many people are familiar with ‘Sam McGee’ because of its lively wit, engaging storytelling, and hilarious punchline. I tried to match Service’s spirit with my music. The band has had a lot of fun rehearsing the piece and it should be a big hit,” LaTorre said, adding he did not want to be featured in The Arlington Times because he is not the only composer in the band.

“How many community bands can say they have even one composer of original music? The North Cascades Concert Band has six,” LaTorre said.

Other compositions by band members that are on the program include “Cement City March” by NCCB tuba player John Rantschler and a dance called “Fairie Dances” by oboist Lucas van de Ven.

“And then we’ll do six or seven encores, ‘cause that’s what Sousa always did,” Pattermann said.

The concert, “Sousa and his Band 2009” starts at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 17 at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center.

Sponsored by the Arlington Lions Club, tickets can be purchased in advance $10 for adults and $5 for students from any Arlington Lions Club member, at Cinderella Beauty Salon, Flowers by George and Arlington Copy Mail & More or by calling 360-435-9593. At the door, tickets will be $12 adults, $6 students. The box office opens at 6:30 p.m. on the night of the performance.

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