Civic Band set to perform at State Conference


The Wilkes University Civic Band has been invited to perform for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Spring Inservice Conference.

Wilkes is one of three collegiate bands chosen to perform during the conference. The band was selected from a field of 130 auditioned groups to present a concert as the featured college/community ensemble.

“I submitted a recording to be eligible,” Dr. Simon, Director of Bands, said. “It’s an honor to be chosen.”

This is the first time in the history of the Wilkes Music Program that an ensemble of Wilkes musicians has performed for a State conference.

Civic Band is preparing to perform two numbers at the conference that takes place in Hershey, Pa. on March 31.

The one performance will be under the direction of Professor Bruce Yurko. Yurko is an eminent American composer and experienced conductor. He is also a 1969 graduate of Wilkes.

When Simon reached out to Yurko with an invitation to guest conduct one of his pieces at the conference, Yurko excitedly accepted.

“I was really thrilled when he [Dr. Simon] called and asked me to come back,” Yurko said.

The concert band will perform Yurko’s 1994 Night Dances Number II, which is the sequel of his famous Night Dances composition.

“Night Dances is the piece that sells out over everything I wrote,” Yurko explained. “The piece was tailor-made to the original high school band that performed it. It was centered around the band playing together then having each chorus play separately.”

Planning to be published in the spring, Night Dances Number II as Yurko explains takes it up a notch.

“Night Dances Number II is more difficult than the original Night Dances,” Yurko said.

Yurko isn’t the only person  excited about the conference.

“When playing a piece of music, it’s one thing for the band director to interpret what the composer would have wanted to express through his or her composition, but because Mr. Yurko will be joining us and conducting his piece, we will be getting first-hand experience as to what the piece really means and exactly what he had in mind while writing it,” said Martina Barna, Wilkes senior and Civic Band member.

The fact that Yurko is a Wilkes alumnus is proving to contribute to the excitement.

“It’s always a great opportunity to meet and work with a composer. Especially with Mr. Yurko being a Wilkes alum, it will give off such a great sense of pride,” Barna said. “I have no doubt that it will be an incredible experience for all of us.”

Simon added,“Bruce is considered one of the nation’s most respected composers.”

The other performance planned for the conference is three parts of a five-movement suite of dances arranged by Eugene Magalif called Dances of the Royal Court.

“Eugene is a good friend to us,” Simon said. “He has already composed one piece for us that we premiered at Wilkes last year, now this suite will be played at the conference.”

Barna will be singing a solo at the Conference.

“The piece that I am singing in is titled ‘Four Maryland Songs’ by Jack Stamp. The piece is composed of four poems written by Maryland poets that are set to music. The soprano soloist sings those poems while the band brings them to life with music,” Barna said.

The two performances weren’t chosen at random from the Civic Band. They chose a theme of performing pieces from composers who were born in Pennsylvania or have ties to the area. This theme is the same for the Civic Band’s Wilkes spring concert.

“The reason that this piece was chosen to be performed at the Pennsylvania Music Educator’s Association conference is that although Jack Stamp was born in Maryland, he received his undergraduate degree in music from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and was the Director of Band Studies there for 25 years,” Barna explained.

She added, “I am so honored to have been asked to sing the soprano solo for the performance and I am excited to work with the Civic Band to help make this piece something really special.”

The other collegiate bands to perform at the conference at the University level are the Duquesne University Wind Ensemble and the Mansfield University Wind Symphony.

Currently the Civic Band is fundraising for their trip to Hershey. The purpose of the Instrumental Music Ensembles is to provide an opportunity for student and community band and orchestral ensemble musicians to perform the artistically significant literature for their respective ensembles.