The Montclair State University School of Music blows the audience away with an outstanding performance, yet again.
With over 250 concerts being presented each year by the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, the MSU Symphonic Band and MSU Campus Band have set the bar high. Students, faculty and family members all came together for a night of extensive, quality music-making by an ensemble of MSU students on Friday, Nov. 20 at the Alexander Kasser Theater.
The MSU Symphonic Band consists of younger, less experienced performers directed and conducted by Montclair State University Associate Professor, Thomas McCauley. McCauley studied Music Education at the University of Nevada where he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree; he continued onto Northwestern University where he obtained a Doctorate of Music in conducting. He comes from the University of Indianapolis and is currently in his ninth year as Director of Bands at Montclair State University.
Some of the students conducted by McCauley said: “Dr. McCauley is such an inspiration. He will help you as long as you show that you want it. [He is] one of the best directors I’ve ever had.”
McCauley’s experience is shown through his involvement as a guest conductor throughout various states across the country where bands under his direction have appeared nationally. He has also received many awards, one being the Outstanding University Music Educator Award back in 2006.
According to one Montclair State University band member, “The level of musicianship in band has improved greatly since [McCauley] came to MSU, and he has done so much to advance music.”
The MSU Campus Band, under the direction of Dr. Shelley Axelson, is comprised of many non-music majors. Prior to coming to the John J. Cali School of Music as the director of the Campus-Community Band, Axelson taught at the University of Indianapolis. She earned a degree in Music Education from the University of South Florida, a Master’s Degree in Conducting from the University of Michigan and a Doctorate of Music in conducting from Northwestern University.
“The Campus Band rehearses only once per week, and yet, under the direction of Dr. Shelley Axelson, they are able to produce wonderful sounds,” said Dr. McCauley
This concert featured a few of the six movements from Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy. These select pieces expressed personality with the use of rhythm and delivery. Each number was unique, some flowing smoothly without any evident breaks while others sharply parted each note from the others.
Along with Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy, the program featured works from Charles Ives’ Country Band March. This piece was composed in the early 1900’s. Majority of his works were made up of modern classical music. Country Band March in particular was an adored mockery movement that expressed the ideals of America during that time period. The number included a range of melodic and harmonic materials which created a thick texture of sound.
These difficult pieces of work were all executed very nicely by the students of Montclair State University. The Symphonic Band in particular played repertoire which seemed to be quite a challenge. The program as a whole was well balanced and evidently captivated the audience as the bands received a genuine applause and standing ovation at the finish of the performance.