2011 Fall Newsletter

Puerto Rico is Prologue; Washington, D.C., to Come for Symphony

Symphony members

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Symphony Heads to Capitol in the Spring

The Cal Poly Symphony, directed by David Arrivée, has been invited to be the showcase ensemble at the 2012 Washington, D.C., International Music Festival, April 27 through May 1. The performance in the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will be the capstone to the festival and will be the culmination of the symphony's first tour outside the state of California.

For the 70 student musicians of the symphony, this historic first will include an unparalleled performance in a world-class concert hall and the opportunity to explore the cultural riches of our nation's capitol. For the audience and the high school participants in the festival, our performance will bring attention to the thriving musical environment at Cal Poly, the nation's premiere comprehensive polytechnic university.

Music Department Chair W. Terrence Spiller will join the symphony to perform Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor.

The symphony will also perform Zoltan Kodaly's colorful "Variations on a Hungarian Folksong," "The Peacock."

The symphony tours every year to cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.


Jazz Bands in Puerto Rico

Members of the University Jazz Bands a the
Old San Juan fort on the ocean where they saw a bomba performance

University Jazz Bands Were Hot in Puerto Rico

by Paul Rinzler

Both University Jazz Bands went to Puerto Rico for six days in June. The tour included three performances, two clinics, and some sightseeing. The bands played exceedingly well and the audiences were fantastic, demanding encores at every performance.

When we arrived in Puerto Rico, the weather was hot and very humid, but we adjusted by going to the beach as soon as we could.

President Obama visited Puerto Rico on our second day. We were scheduled to have a clinic on that day in Old San Juan, but had to reschedule because the only route our bus could take was on a road that was closed because it passed right by where the president was to give a speech.

The next day we traveled to the southern side of Puerto Rico, to Ponce, for some sightseeing and our first gig. We went to a musical museum where we saw variants on the guitar called cuatro, some in fantastic shapes.

Band members took a tour of Ponce by trolley. The trolley driver got a round of applause from everyone when he honked his horn in traffic using a three-two clave.

Our first gig was an exchange gig at which a local jazz/salsa band also performed. The audience was enthusiastic from the very beginning. The concert ended with a jam session with all three bands on "Oye Como Va." The jam lasted about 20 minutes and elicited a standing ovation from the audience.

The next day we went to Old San Juan for a clinic on traditional Puerto Rican bomba and plena music with local musicians, and the band got to play some as well.

We did some sightseeing and saw a performance of bomba on a stage at the old fort right by the ocean. Dancing is crucial in bomba, as the lead, improvising drummer responds musically to improvised moves by the dancer.

Overall, the bands performed extremely well, were greatly appreciated by every audience, learned a lot, and had a lot of fun.