A musical march – in April

Delta Concert Band steps to a specialized genre in Langley next Saturday.

The march is a fundamental form of music most of us recognize as a mainstay in parades or the half-time show at football games, but as a unique concert hosted by Delta Concert Band on April 16 will show, there’s much more to this specialized musical genre than meets the eye – and ears.

The concert – “The March: Step to it!” – at the Langley campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University will be a highly-entertaining crash course in the history, form, elements and styles of march music. It is sponsored by Third Age Learning at Kwantlen (TALK), a seniors special education group.

Delta Concert Band musical director Jim Tempest, who is also a Vancouver-based music educator, will lecture on the elements of march music and then lead Delta Concert Band’s more than 40 adult musicians to bring the lecture to life with music.

The band has been based in Delta for more than 50 years.

“This is really a unique kind of concert and a rare opportunity for music lovers to learn about a musical form that is sometimes either taken for granted or not well understood,” Tempest said.

Known for a strong, steady beat originally intended to lead troops on the march stretching back to Roman times, and today’s upbeat tempo of 120 beats per minute, which was popularized by Napoleon Bonaparte, the march has now found its way into nearly every type of music including symphonies, operas, Hollywood movies, Broadway musicals and even jazz.

Consequently, there are now many different kinds of marches. They can be slow and sombre like a funeral march, bright and quick such as the circus march, patriotic like a military march, energized and glitzy as you’ll see in Broadway show marches or full of pomp and circumstance as they were in the Victorian era when Britannia ruled the waves.

The earliest written marches began to appear in the late 16th century but the genre became popular in the 19th century with the extensive development of wind instruments, especially the brass variety.

Regardless, even classical composers such as Mozart, Beethoven and Mahler wrote marches into their symphonies, operas and sonatas.

National march styles have also evolved. British marches are often slower in tempo and feature intricate counter-melodies, German marches commonly have a strong polka rhythm while French marches usually have a strong emphasis on the first beat.

But it’s American marches which are likely the best-known, especially those written by the late, great John Philip Sousa such as “Semper Fidelis” or “The Stars and Stripes Forever” while South American marches feature a strong Latin beat.

The Delta Concert Band program will feature a wide variety these march musical styles including well-known numbers  such as Colonel Bogey, The St. Louis Blues March, Seventy Six Trombones, Triumphal March from Aida as well as John Williams’ Olympic Fanfare and Theme.

Registration with TALK by April 8 is required and tickets are $20 for TALK member and $30 for non-members.

The concert runs from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the KPU Langley Campus Auditorium, Room 1270, 20901 Langley Bypass – and your ticket includes lunch.

For more information, visit kpu.ca/talk or call 604-599-3077.

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