Director Keith Brion donned a reproduction of the uniform of the March King on Monday night at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts to lead his 43-member New Sousa Band in a few serious selections and many lighthearted technical displays, with frequent touches of humor.
The spectacle aspect of this glimpse into turn-of-the-century Americana was not lost on audience members, some of whom talked, cheered and waved miniature American flags. One World War I-uniformed Long Beach resident, Thomas "Ski" Demski, even brought the audience back from intermission with his bugle.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday July 20, 1996 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 2 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
New Sousa Band bugler--In the New Sousa Band review Wednesday, the World War I-era bugler should have been identified as Fred Hummer of Fountain Valley. Thomas "Ski" Demski introduced him.
With Brion's encouragement, the audience sang the national anthem, clapped through the most famous of Sousa's marches and joined with piccolo player Janet Axelrod in "The Whistler and His Dog," by Pryor (band members barked their response).
The musicians displayed their high level of accomplishment mostly in silly but demanding arrangements of light classics and silly but demanding originals. One could only imagine the hours of Bach flute sonatas that led up to Axelrod's chance to twitter August Damm's ridiculous and difficult piccolo solo in "Through the Air," or the years of Mahler and Wagner that preceded Earle Louder's euphonium solo in "All Those Endearing Young Charms," by Simone Mantia.
There were a few nods to less frivolous music, though, even then, Brion concentrated more on fun than nuance. Soprano Virginia Croskery gave a sophisticated and evocative performance of "Io son l'umile ancella," from "Adriana Lecouvreur," by Francesco Cilea, as if it were meant to be backed by wind band. The instrumentalists discovered dynamics in time for an arrangement, by Croy, of "Le jardin feerique," from Ravel's "Ma mere l'oye."