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Concert returns to stage with ‘Rhapsody In Blue’

The Palomar Pacific Coast Concert Band rehearses under the direction of Kenneth Bell for their upcoming performance of Rhapsody in Blue on Nov. 17.  Joe Dusel/ The Telescope.
The Palomar Pacific Coast Concert Band rehearses under the direction of Kenneth Bell for their upcoming performance of Rhapsody in Blue on Nov. 17. Joe Dusel/ The Telescope.

The sound of “Rhapsody in Blue” will fill the halls of the Howard Brubeck Theatre on Dec. 11.

This piece, written by George Gershwin in 1924, is a blend of classical and jazz styles, and has since been one America’s most popular concert pieces. It, along with another Gershwin piece and some Christmas music, will be performed by the Palomar/Pacific Coast Concert Band with Peter Gach on solo piano.

Gach is a world class pianist who was a Palomar faculty mem­ber for 32 years before retiring in 2012. “I play everything from Bach all the way through com­posers who’ve written pieces just for me,” said Gach.

This will be the second time the band has played this piece. “It’s the quintessential band piece when you have a virtuoso pianist,” said Kenneth Bell, the band’s director. “It’s classical and jazz melded together in that wonderful thing of the l 920’s.”

Given the recent election, this fusion of styles may give the rhapsody political relevance as well.

Gach described the piece as the blend of the European style of classical and the Afri­can American style of Jazz into something uniquely American. “That achievement of [Gershwin] in this piece, and in other pieces as well, is something we need to always remember in terms of who we are as a country,” Gach said.

The intricacies of the piece can also make it difficult to play. Since the piece features long piano solos, the transitions between solos and the parts where the band comes in can be difficult to nail.

“It’s been challenging,” said John Strohminger, the assistant principle trumpet. “There are some very dif­ficult rhythms that are not easy to play.”

The Palomar Pacific Coast Concert Band rehearses under the direction of Kenneth Bell for their upcoming performance of Rhapsody in Blue on Nov. 17th.  Joe Dusel/ The Telescope.
The Palomar Pacific Coast Concert Band rehearses under the direction of Kenneth Bell for their upcoming performance of Rhapsody in Blue on Nov. 17th. Joe Dusel/ The Telescope.

However, Strohminger is confi­dent that the band will give a great performance.

“There’s something that happens when all 80 people who are on stage performing… are on top of their game all at the same time,” he said.

The concert will also include several other pieces, including an­other Gershwin piece called Porgy and Bess, a variation on “Deck the Halls,” and Christmas carols in which a local french horn group, Hornswoggle, will be playing in the balcony.

“It will be a three dimensional audio extravaganza,” said Strohm­inger.

Tickets for the concert, which will run from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., are available from between 10 to 15 dollars at the Howard Brubeck The­atre box office. For more informa­tion contact the box office by call­ing 760-744-1153 ext. 2453, or visit Palomar’s Performing Arts website at www.palomarperforms.com

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Concert returns to stage with ‘Rhapsody In Blue’