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Strike Up the Band

With trombones gleaming in the sunshine, and tympani carefully balanced on the grass on Baker lawn, the Dartmouth Wind Symphony provided an hour of rousing entertainment to students bleary-eyed from studying for final exams. Under the direction of Conductor Max Culpepper, the 50-piece ensemble took its outdoor audience on an international musical tour in the 23rd annual President's Study Break Concert on May 29. Dating back to 1986, the concerts were launched by President David McLaughlin and have been generously supported since then, said Culpepper, by Presidents Freedman and Wright.

Max Culpepper conducts
Max Culpepper conducts at the May 29 President's Study Break Concert (photo by Tilman Dette '10)

The players sat directly in front of Baker Library's gleaming white doors, which every few moments opened quietly to deliver a student from his or her studies or usher another in. Some, either enthralled by the music or too tired to take another step, dropped onto the cool grass, pausing to take in some Puccini or Wagner before hitting the books again.

Members of the Dartmouth Wind Symphony
Members of the Class of 2008 who have played with the Dartmouth Wind Symphony, from left: Robert Taintor, Karelle Hall, Lauren Berkovits, and Nathaniel Grainger (photo by Tilman Dette '10)

Culpepper asked the audience to give a special round of applause to the '08s who had played in the wind symphony for their entire Dartmouth careers. The group stood in place holding clarinets and alto saxophones while their classmates cheered. Turning back to his musical circumnavigation, Culpepper told the audience that the next country represented on the program would be Russia. "This is a piece by Gliere called the ‘Russian Sailor's Dance,'" he said, adding that it was once used as a score in the film, The Russians are Coming. "If you're old enough to remember that movie, then you're very old," said Culpepper.

The Dartmouth Wind Symphony
The Dartmouth Wind Symphony provided an hour of rousing entertainment to students bleary-eyed from studying for final exams (photo by Tilman Dette '10)

The concert closed with a medley of Dartmouth songs, to the general delight of everyone in the audience but perhaps to the particular delight of the alumni who had turned out for the event. As the orchestra began playing the Alma Mater, Don Goss '53 stood up with hat respectfully placed over his heart. "It's a tradition," he said. "The men of my generation always stood when the Alma Mater was played, and we always will."

Added Nicole Williamson '10, "This was really relaxing. It's so perfect to have something like this during finals."

The Dartmouth Wind Symphony is one of 10 Hopkins Center performing ensembles. Its reeds, horns, and tympani draw on the talents of Dartmouth students, as well as players from the local community.

By LAUREL STAVIS

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Last Updated: 6/2/08