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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Selah in the Noise – Almost…

Concerts should not be held in gymnasiums. Never, under any circumstances, should a band concert be held in a school gymnasium. Regrettably, however, they often are. Sometimes there is just no other option.

Monday night the Newton, Iowa schools held a “Band Extravaganza” in the gymnasium of Newton High School. The 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands as well as the High School Symphonic Band, and the High School Wind Ensemble shared a concert event-in the gymnasium. It is the one place large enough to fit them all in, with seats enough for the audience.

The bleachers were filled-which, in itself, was a good thing. It was nice to see so many people come out to support the kids. But every movement in that gymnasium, every bleacher creak, every chatting person, every shuffled foot, and every crying baby made noise that reverberated continuously throughout the room. No matter how well a band plays, they will not sound good in a gymnasium.  The music gets lost in the noise.

We were there to hear my son perform with the 8th grade band.  His band played a very nice piece entitled: Awakening Hills by Richard Saucedo. But I was especially impressed by a piece that the NHS Wind Ensemble played- a band arrangement of Selah by Dan Forrest Jr

It is a gorgeous piece of music, and the kids played it well. The lush, rich chords of the song filled the gymnasium, and for one moment there was near holy silence, a pause, a selah. People stopped shuffling their feet. The chatter died down. Even the crying babies seemed to hush.

Then came one of the pauses, and the crowd-not watching the conductor to see that his baton was still raised, and forgetting that he’d warned them before the song began that there was going to be a few of these pauses within the song-began cheering and applauding wildly. The conductor grimaced, but continued. The audience quieted down, somewhat, to hear the band. Then came another of the pauses, and again (GAH!) people began to applaud and to cheer. The band continued the song, and the crowd laughed at their mistake.

I sighed. Such a gorgeous wonderful song.  Lost in the noise of the gymnasium.

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