Space-themed Pioneer Jazz I Concert


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

Pioneer Jazz I performed on Monday, April 24, from 5-6:30 p.m. in Brodbeck Concert Hall.

The concert opened with the song “There Will Never Be Another You” arranged by Dave Cooper. The crowd loved the song, and it helped set the scene for the upcoming space tunes.

There was a total of ten songs performed by the Pioneer Jazz I group during their concert.

Next, the band performed “Team Galactic” from the famous game Pokémon, which was arranged by Insane in the Rain. This song was a contribution by senior saxophonist Aaron Simays, who chose the piece and was featured during the song.

The Exponent had the opportunity to talk with Simays regarding his take on the song.

“The original Team Galactic HQ from thevgame had an alto sax solo in it, and Carlos arranged it to feature an amazing player, Patrick Bartley. The song is upbeat and groovy, with a very difficult saxophone solo,” Simays stated, “I didn’t want my senior feature to be easy. I wanted it to challenge me, and playing fast is something I struggle with. I am super happy that the whole band got it down in such a short amount of time, along with the other difficult music we played. I want to look back in 10 years and think, ‘Wow, I was part of a band that played that.’”

The largest part of the concert was a suite called “The Planets”, originally composed by Gustav Holst, but rearranged by Jeremy Levy, who retitled the space-themed piece “The Planets: Reimagined.”

In April 2018, the San Francisco Symphony performed “The Planets: Reimagined” and released a brochure with information about the history of the piece and its themes.

The first piece in the suite was called “Mars: The Bringer of War.” This piece had a militaristic feel and a space vibe all at the same time. According to the brochure, “The association of Mars and war goes back as far as history records. The planet’s satellites are Phobos (fear) and Deimos (terror), and its astrological symbol combines shield and spear.” This piece was composed during a time of war which inspired the composer to pull in elements from combat music.

The next piece was “Venus: The Bringer of Peace.” This piece was a nice contrast to Mars. The brochure said, “In ‘The Principles and Practices of Astrology’, Noel Tyl tells us that, to astrologers, ‘when the disorder of Mars is past, Venus restores peace and harmony.’” The calm this piece brought lulled audience members into a false sense of security as Mercury began.

Following afterward was “Mercury: The Winged Messenger,” which has an unstable, ever-changing vibe that is highlighted through the meter and harmony of the tune.

Played next was “Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity.” The brochure commented that the piece was “named for the lightbringer, the raingod, the god of thunderbolts, of the grape and the tasting of the new wine, of oaths, treaties and contracts, and from whom we take the word ‘jovial.’” The Jazz I band brought meaning to the title of the song by having a cheerful beat throughout the whole tune.

Following this piece was “Saturn: The Bringer of Old Age.” Saturn is the bringer of old time and agriculture. Time can be uncertain and still stay the same. This piece was Holst’s favorite of the whole suite.

“Uranus: The Magician” came next. “In astrology, Uranus rules invention, innovation, and astrology itself. Holst begins with a triple invocation (trumpets and trombones, then tubas, then timpani) and leads that way into a movement of galumphing dance. At the end, the apparitions disappear into the night,” the brochure said.

The last piece of the suite and concert was “Neptune: The Mystic.” This piece ended with all the players exiting and leaving the pianist Jemma Holden like she was stuck in a dark vortex and floating in space. The audience was left in awe, giving a standing ovation to celebrate the musicians.

The Exponent also had a chance to talk to Jemma Holden about how her solo left her feeling. She stated, “I felt so connected to the piano and the music, it was so special and a moment I will never forget. This was my first concert soloing, and I was pretty nervous to improv solo like that, but once I started playing, I felt like it was just me and the piano.” Holden was amazed at herself and the way that she performed.