The Ashland Area Community Concert Band (AACCB) and Ashland University Wind Ensemble present their annual Winter Festival Concert, under the direction Ashland University Director of Bands Leonard Salvo along with guest artist, soprano Stephanie Sikora, on Thursday, December 8, 7:30 p.m. at the University’s Hugo Young Theatre. The concert is free and open to the public.
The 60-piece Wind Ensemble begins the concert with “A Festival Prelude” by Alfred Reed which opens with robust fanfares followed by a warm and melodic middle section then ending with a majestic processional march. The ensemble continues with “Ghost Train” by Eric Whitacre, one of the most popular and performed composers of our generation. This first movement of the three movement tone poem “Ghost Train Triptych” depicts a supernatural machine that roars out of the night through forgotten towns and empty canyons. The music’s eerie sounds and driving rhythms beautifully captures the supernatural spirit combined with the essence of a steaming locomotive. The third piece of the program, “Perthshire Majesty” by Samuel Hazo, is a lush Scottish ballad which won the 2003 National Band Association’s Revelli Memorial Composition Contest. Closing the first half of the concert, the Wind Ensemble performs Reber Clark’s “Hymn of St. James” which is a composition for band based on the hymn “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.”
After a brief intermission, the Ashland Area Community Concert Band begins their program with “Fanatic Winds,” a lively concert work with a youthful character by English composer Thomas Doss; followed by two movements of Clare Grundman’s exquisite symphonic settings of four beloved English folk tunes in “English Suite;” and James Swearingen’s “The Light Eternal”, a dramatic and emotional work based on the hymn “God of Our Fathers” that tells the story of the S.S. Dorchester that sank off the coast of Greenland. Soprano Stephanie Sikora then takes the stage with the Concert Band to perform Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s “Tonight” from the American musical “West Side Story.” The concert closes with Robert Sheldon’s “A Most Wonderful Christmas” which includes some of the most popular Christmas selections of all time such as “Winter Wonderland,” “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” and “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”
Stephanie Sikora is currently in her nineteenth year as head of the voice area in the Department of Music at Ashland University. She has sung over 100 performances with Cleveland Opera on Tour, as well as appeared in main stage productions with Cleveland Opera, and as a guest soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Festival. Additional credits include performances with the Reading Symphony, Canton Symphony, Mendelssohn of Pittsburgh, Ashland Symphony, Akron Lyric Opera Theatre, Firelands Symphony, The Singers’ Club, and fourteen years as a member and frequent soloist with the Robert Page Cleveland Singers.