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Selections from 'The Planets' Featured in Wind Ensemble Show

Matt Blackmore
On Thursday, Dec. 1, music major Matt Blackmore, of Greenville, will play his 12th and final concert with the Lander University Wind Ensemble.

The final performance of the semester by Lander University's Wind Ensemble will be out of this world.

That's because the Thursday, Dec. 1, concert, which starts at 8 p.m. in Lander's Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium, will feature "Mars, the Bringer of War" and "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity," from English composer Gustav Holst's masterwork, "The Planets."

The two selections stand in stark contrast. Lander assistant professor of music Dr. Reed Gallo, who leads the ensemble, said "'Mars' conveys a sense that you're about to go into battle. It's very intense." When "Jupiter" is being performed, Gallo said, "you just smile."

Gallo described both works, rarely heard in the Upstate, as "very challenging."

Gallo made a conscious effort to include works that would test both his musicians' skills and his skills as a conductor, and the program also includes "March and Procession of Bacchus," by French composer Leo Delibes; a selection from "La Traviata," by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi; "Come, Sweet Death," by German composer J.S. Bach; and "Ballet Parisien," by Prussian-French composer Jacques Offenbach.

American arranger James Hosay's "Westminster Carol" is also in the mix. Gallo described it as "something to make us feel festive."

In terms of difficulty, the concert is expected to rival a Spring 2011 performance, which raised the bar for the wind ensemble. In fact, Gallo said, "the students feel this one is more challenging."

It will be the 12th and final appearance with the ensemble for senior music major Matt Blackmore, of Greenville, who plays trumpet.

Blackmore, who has been the brass instructor for four years at his former high school, Wade Hampton High School, and who served last year as the student director of the Lander University Pep Band, began playing trumpet as an eighth-grader at League Academy in Greenville.

He credits Gallo and the two band directors he had in high school with assisting him in his maturation as a musician. He said that Gallo, in particular, "has been a great teacher. He's really helped me to develop my playing to another level."

When he graduates in April 2012, Blackmore will be certified to teach, and he has every intention of doing so. He would like to be a high school band director, he said, but adds, "I'd be happy teaching middle school as well."

He agrees with Gallo that the wind ensemble has stepped it up, musically. "We're playing more challenging music than we've played before, and we sound better than we've sounded before," he said.

The concert is free and open to the public.