seal  Purdue News

September 24, 2003

Soaring music fills Purdue Bands' Oct. 5 'Visions of Flight'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – When Purdue’s Symphonic Band and Fall Concert Band link the energy of songs written about flight with soaring musical notes, the result is a dynamic tribute to 100 years of manned flight at the "Visions of Flight" concert.

The free concert is set for 2:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 5, in the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St., Lafayette. It is part of Homecoming festivities and Purdue’s campus-wide celebration of 100 years of flight.

"Cloudsplitter Fanfare," "Aces of the Air," "Fantasy of Flight" and the title work, "Visions of Flight," are among a dozen works selected by Symphonic Band director Jay Gephart for the groups to perform.

The selections weren't easy choices, Gephart says. "Because of the Air Force Band in Washington, D.C., and base bands who commission works, there is such a wealth of music about flight out there."

Gephart focused on selecting tunes that would give Purdue’s student musicians and the audience a variety of experiences. "Aces of the Air" is a seldom-performed Karl King march with roots in the war atmosphere of 1942.

In a completely different vein, arranger Robert W. Smith took various themes from John Williams’ movie music and combined them for a fantasy flight that ranges from a ride on a spaceship in Star Wars, to ET on an airborne bicycle. to a ride on Harry Potter’s quidich broom.

Each band opens its portion of the concert with a different version of "Cloudsplitter Fanfare."

"Both bands are exciting, but they are radically different," Gephart says. The Fall Concert Band, under the direction of Boyd Loughrige, performs the more tuneful Carl Strommen version. The Symphonic Band offers Jack Stamp’s version, which Gephart describes as "much more metallic and almost industrial. It’s a virtuosic piece, written for the Air Force Band, with a lot of flourishes for the woodwinds."

The Fall Concert Band performs the concert’s title piece, "Visions of Flight," by Robert Sheldon. Gephart says it has the flavor of movie music even through it has no relation to the big screen.

"It represents the soaring nature of flight," he says. "It’s easy to close your eyes and visualize flight from the perspective of a pilot and what it’s like to be behind the controls of a supersonic jet." So there’s power but at the same time serenity, Gephart says. "In the middle of the piece there’s a serenity that you only get by being up in the sky by yourself, a sense of peacefulness."

Among the other pieces on the program are Robert Jager’s "Lord, Guard and Guide," built around the first four words of the "Air Force Hymn," and W. Francis McBeth’s "Through Countless Halls of Air," inspired by historic moments in flight from the Greek god Icarus who flew too near the sun and melted his wax wings to the Wright brothers' flight at Kitty Hawk.

The Purdue Symphonic Band and Fall Concert Band will next perform at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, at the Long Center. For more information on Purdue Bands’ events call (765) 496-6785 or check out

Writer: Kathy Matter, (765) 496-6785;

Source: Jay Gephart, (765) 494-7886,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;


NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Media interested in interviews should contact Kathy Matter, Purdue Bands Public Relations (765) 496-6785.

Related Web sites:
Purdue University Bands home page

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