SRJC Orchestra and Symphonic Band wows with their “Lift Off!” fall performance


Courtesy Dr. Jerome Fleg

The SRJC’s Symphonic Band and Orchestra performance, “Lift Off!” captured a theme of space and flight at their fall concert streamed on YouTube Oct. 23.

Jenna McGovern, Reporter

Santa Rosa Junior College’s Orchestra and Symphonic Band created a beautiful, atmospheric sensation at its first online concert of Fall 2021, “Lift Off!” conducted by Director of Symphonic Band and Orchestra Dr. Jerome Fleg and streamed on YouTube Oct. 23.

The hour-long concert featured 10 songs influenced by flight and space, and it was the first concert in which students performed in-person on stage since Spring 2020, three semesters ago.

“We all realized how many aspects of music learning and performing can only happen effectively in-person,” Fleg said. “Many musicians rediscovered their love and appreciation of music the moment they could make music in-person again.”

The performance began with Felix Mendelssohn’s “Overture in C Major” with a smaller section of wind and percussion musicians performing. The performance had a very exciting feel and was a great introduction to the concert, especially in regards to its theme of space and elation. 

The next two orchestral pieces were both created by Libby Larson, “Fanfare for Humanity” and “Overture for the End of a Century.” The first piece was a brief and engaging brass ensemble that went directly into the full orchestra’s performance of Larson’s second song, which included tech elements like a mixing board and synthesizer. The orchestra’s rendition was playful and tempo-building. The violin section strongly stood out in this piece and harmonized beautifully with the bass section.

The next song, “Serenade for Strings” by Josef Suk, began with a swelling, cheerful and building sound that moved into a graceful waltz. The musicians brought life to this piece from the very first note and created an incredible and romantic sound through both parts of the song.

The orchestra’s final song was “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” from the 1984 Olympics by John Williams. This piece fit the “Lift Off” theme because it embodied the active and upward movements found in athletics. Both the night’s theme and William’s piece echo the Olympic motto: Faster, Higher, Stronger.

The orchestra’s performance was strong and magnetic. Its uplifting and inspiring nature was evident throughout, especially through the percussion section and deep cello sounds. It was a stunning conclusion to an already-astounding performance.

The symphonic band performed the second half of the concert. While the musicians all wore black concert dress, most included a splash of purple in their attire shown in their dyed purple hair or neckties. The musicians always include an alternate color to wear during their performances.

Their first song, “In Flight” by Samuel R. Hazo, was an energetic piece, marked with crashing cymbals and long, elegant notes from the wind instruments.

The following two pieces were “Ave Verum Corpus,” written by W.A. Mozart and arranged by Joseph Kreines, and Gordon Jacob’s “Giles Farnaby Suite.” The first song was a gentle and playful theme that transitioned to become slow and mellow. The band’s harmony was proof of their skill, and it created a beautiful atmosphere that came through even as an online concert. 

The band’s rendition of Jacob’s piece emulated the renaissance era from which the song was written. Its tempo-switches and exciting percussion was intriguing and kept the audience on their toes.

The band’s final two pieces were a perfect end to the concert. Julie Giroux’s “One Life Beautiful” was very gentle and climbing. It sounded just like how you would imagine space feels, which solidified the cohesiveness of the performance. The flute section stood out during this song, a gorgeous and alluring rendition. 

The final song, “Symphonic Suite from Star Trek” by Michael Giacchino, Alexander Courage and Gene Roddenberry and arranged by Jay Bocook, was a truly invigorating song to include. It was filled with changes in pace and an overall dynamic sound. As the musicians performed, they moved along with the music and were just as enthralled with the performance as the viewers were. 

The breathtaking “Lift Off!” concert is available to view on the SRJC Instrumental Music YouTube channel.

The orchestra and symphonic band’s next performance will be Dec. 11, and is tentatively planned to be held in-person with a limited-capacity audience. The theme is the number four, with pieces inspired by the southwest region in the US, the Four Corners. 

“We look most forward to the excitement and human connection that only happens through in-person music,” Fleg said. “We anticipate there will be great energy, spirit and excitement felt by everyone as these ensembles get to share their music with an audience once again.”