Banding Together in Boston

Banding Together in Boston

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

Every February for 51 years, their hockey teams have staged memorable battles with one another.

The Boston College Concert Band will join their local counterparts this Sunday for the first-ever "Bands of the Beanpot" concert.
This Sunday at 3 p.m., Boston College and its fellow Beanpot Tournament competitor schools will, for the first time, put their concert bands all in one room - together.

No, say organizers, the Feb. 16 concert in Northeastern University's Blackman Auditorium is not a "battle of the bands," but rather a long overdue gathering they hope will become a highly anticipated annual event.

"On the one hand, it's a chance for our students to meet and socialize with their fellow concert band members from Harvard, BU and Northeastern," said Boston College Bands Director Sebastian Bonaiuto. "It's also a learning opportunity, however. You get to hear what other bands do, and how they do it."

Bonaiuto says the origins of the "Bands of the Beanpot" event began a year ago when BC's Concert Band invited their Northeastern counterparts to perform at the Heights. This year was Northeastern's turn to host.

"Then, the Northeastern band director called to say that BU was interested in participating," said Bonaiuto, "and a little while after that, he said Harvard had heard about the event and wondered if they could join in.

"So I said, 'You know what we've got here: the Beanpot.' Obviously, it's a fun angle, and it does help to generate interest in the event.

"But we'll all be in concert dress instead of hockey jerseys," he quipped. "Hopefully, no fights will break out and we won't need a penalty box."

The BC repertoire for Sunday's concert will include a home-grown composition: a new setting of the prayer "Ave Maria" written and arranged by junior Paul Schutz, who also will stand in as conductor. "Ave Maria," or "Hail Mary," is probably the most familiar of all prayers in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and has been set to music by various composers, including Franz Schubert (whose version was used in the final segment of Walt Disney's "Fantasia").

An English major from Evansville, Ind., who plays piano and several other instruments, Schutz has been composing since age 10 and last year produced an album of contemporary Christian music.

"I write liturgical music, so at some point I was eventually going to write 'Ave Maria,'" he said. "One day I happened to be tinkering around on the piano and a melody came out that I realized would fit perfectly, so I said to myself, 'Maybe I should pursue this.'

"I wanted the piece to show the various themes throughout the prayer. But I feel there's a lot of joy in 'Ave Maria,' and I definitely felt that should be expressed."

When Schutz first showed him his composition last fall, Bonaiuto was intrigued. "The typical setting for 'Ave Maria' is soft, very lyrical, rather subdued. But Paul has created something unusual, bright and uptempo."

The choral part for Schutz's "Ave Maria" will be sung at Sunday's concert by members of the University Chorale, BC bOp! and the St. Ignatius Church Choir, of which Schutz is a member.

Other selections to be performed by the BC Concert Band will be "Prelude" by Shostakovich and "Orpheus in the Underworld" by Offenbach.

Blackman Auditorium, the site of the "Bands of the Beanpot" concert, is located in Ell Hall on the Northeastern campus, 346 Huntington Avenue. Admission is $5. For more information, contact the BC Bands Office at ext.2-3018.


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