Dallas — In a celebration of Veteran’s Day, the Lone Star Wind Orchestra presented All-American Grit, a collection of patriotic and quintessentially American music in homage to veterans and active-duty service men and women across all the US Armed Forces. Under music director and conductor Eugene Migliaro Corporon, the LSWO demonstrated a wide breadth of ability with varying tone, color, and texture.
The concert opened with an energetic reading of James Stephenson’s Stars and Stripes Forever, inspired by John Philip Sousa’s familiar tune. Immediately, Corporon set a bold, commanding tone.
Donald Grantham’s Farewell to Gray was a particularly beautiful piece. Lyric and tender, Grantham’s work is based on a traditional West Point song meant to acknowledge graduates as they matriculate on to the Army. It is lush and brilliant with a warm, melodic center, heavy on brass and flute.
The program also featured David Wallis Reeves’ Yankee Doodle Fantasy Humoresque. Centered on the “Yankee Doodle” jingle, one might assume that the piece proves repetitive and monotonous. However, the LSWO’s read presented all the varying qualities of each instrument over exciting iterations of the theme. The piece is charming, energetic, and genuinely humorous, with a rousing finish on an orchestral exclamation.
A concert program like this one would not have been complete without a re-interpretation of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again,” which Morton Gould captures in his orchestral fantasy American Salute. Here, the clarinets tended to rush the melodic theme a tad, but remained appropriately layered within the texture of the ensemble. Ira Hearshen’s Reveille, which is based on the well-known tune of the morning bugle call, was a surprisingly nuanced piece that expanded the simple tune into a perfectly rich, multi-layered soundscape.
Overall, it was a thrilling concert program replete with tender, heartfelt moments. Richard Hayman’s arrangement of Armed Forces on Parade, which features all of the armed forces melodies strewn together, gave service men and women and their families in the audience a chance to stand up and be acknowledged. Led by guest conductor Navy Lieutenant Luslaida Barbosa, the wind band was authoritative and bright. For each tune, Barbosa faced the audience and saluted all those who stood in representation of their service in their respective branches.
In politically charged times like the one we all live in now, it is often difficult to discern the line between patriotism and nationalism. With the thoughtfully designed program of All-American Grit, Corporon and the Lone Star Wind Orchestra offered this reviewer a charming distinction through one of the most powerful modes of expression: music. Not only that, they artfully demonstrated the vibrant and varied capability of a wind band’s textural makeup with solid, clever musicianship.