On Friday, Sept. 27, Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music provided a very big treat to the general public. The Mercer Ensemble Series: Mad About Chamber Music I concert was held in Fickling Hall at the McCorkle Music Building on Mercer’s campus. This concert was performed by Mercer’s Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Douglas Hill.
Having been to many other concerts put on by Mercer’s music school, I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about the general music programs on campus. I entered Fickling Hall with neutral opinions and expectations about the concert. That mindset quickly changed as soon as I took the first step into the concert hall. There had never been so many people in all my past attendances. My expectations started to increase as I saw more and more people coming to enjoy the concert. The whole room seemed to buzz with excitement. Shortly after the 7:30 p.m. mark, the performance began.
The concert consisted of nine different groups that performed in split ensembles. These groups included the percussion ensemble, clarinet quartet, trumpet ensemble, trombone quintet, two saxophone quartets, two brass quintets and a brass choir. Each ensemble performed one to four pieces of wide variety. As a result of this variety, each ensemble’s performance kept the audience engaged. The program progressed effortlessly and there was never a dull moment. Previous musical performances have had the possibility to lose audience interest because of the singularity of the program. However, the frequent rotation of the diverse groups in the chamber winds concert continually kept the audience on their toes. After the smaller groups, the concert finished off with its grand finale. The brass choir, last to perform, consisted of 15 performers of the brass family. This performance was the cherry on top of this fantastic concert. The brass timbres reverberated across the entire concert hall to create a truly breathtaking moment. Overall, this concert completely altered my view of Mercer’s music program. I will definitely be attending more performances in the future, as should the other students on or off campus. It is a genuine treat for all to enjoy.
When asked about the background of the ensemble series, Hill stated, “This series started 13 years ago in 2001 when the McCorkle Music Building opened. Its purpose was two-fold: First, the students in the full wind ensemble are assigned into 8 to 12 small chamber ensembles for three weeks each semester culminating in a concert. One purpose is to provide the Mercer University Wind Ensemble members with an opportunity to rehearse and perform in small chamber ensembles thus making them better individual musicians. Second, since the Wind Ensemble is too large to fit onto the Fickling Recital Hall stage, the ‘Mad About Chamber Music’ is one way all students can perform in this beautiful space each semester.”
Hill also wanted the general public to look forward to hearing the full Mercer Wind Ensemble and the Houston County High School Symphonic Band at Houston County High School with guest conductor, Maestro Enric Parreno, in the "Live From Spain" concert on Monday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.