When it comes to May concerts, Carthage College Music Professor James Ripley likes to get creative.
In 2018, the college’s Wind Orchestra and Concert Band performed “Mechanical Musical Mayhem!” featuring several “mechanical” pieces emulating automobile factories, atomic particle accelerators, steel mills and the fictional combination of steam-powered gadgets in the “steampunk” genre.
For this year’s May concert — 7:30 Friday night in Siebert Chapel — Ripley chose the theme “Best of All Possible Worlds,” exploring “the balancing of environmental and industrial concerns in contemporary society,” Ripley said.
Selections will range from “the very traditional to highly experimental in nature” — but all focusing on how to make the “best of all possible worlds.”
Both Concert Band and Wind Orchestra will perform, as well as a special selection for senior members of both ensembles.
Christopher Marshall’s “Rust Belt” is the featured work of the Wind Orchestra and will feature trumpet soloists Kevin Natoli and Jacinda Ripley, both recent graduates of Northwestern University’s Beinen School of Music Master’s program.
Ripley is also a 2012 Tremper High School graduate.
Marshall’s “Rust Belt” refers “to the region of the United States facing economic, population and environmental issues stemming from the closing of factories and a once powerful industrial sector, such as Kenosha and Racine,” James Ripley said. “The music suggests the vibrancy, blue-collar energy and optimism that characterized those regions in the ‘good times’ and a yearning to return to relevancy through revitalizing its community.”
Other music to be performed by the Wind Orchestra includes “Cloud Factory” by Johan de Meij, which Ripley calls “a programmatic depiction in sound of a seaside industrial site in the Netherlands.”
The Wind Orchestra will also perform “Laurie’s Song” by Aaron Copland and “The Girl in 14G” by Janinie Tesori.
Those two selections, Ripley said, “describe moving into a big new world and making the most of it — along with music of a similar context taken from Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Candide’ operetta — ‘Make our Garden Grow’ and ‘Best of All Possible Worlds.’ ”
Concert Band program
Selections by the Concert Band come from the large-scale “pageants” held in London during the early 20th century “to celebrate a rewritten history of the British Empire through staged outdoor scenarios accompanied by music,” Ripley said.
Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst and Frank Bridge — including a rarely performed “Funeral March” by Vaughan Williams using themes from his Ninth Symphony — will be performed.
Completing the Concert Band program is “Rock Music” from composer Alex Shapiro, which incorporates a recorded “soundscape” within the musical texture, as well as the sounds of rocks struck together. Shapiro’s music depicts glacial movement, including their splitting, or “calving” to form an iceberg, Ripley said.
Admission to Friday’s concert is free and open to the public. Doors to concert will open at 7 p.m.