An Evening at the Pops!
The Youngstown State University Wind Ensemble performed at an outdoor concert at Harrison Common on Wednesday, where they played a handful of genre-spanning pieces from Super Mario Brothers to an armed forces salute.
Stephen L. Gage, a professor of music at YSU and director of the wind ensemble, conducted the concert. Graduate students Heather Johnson, Kevin Scales and Nick Marzoula also conducted pieces in the series.
Gage said he was impressed with how well the performance went, as there was little time to prepare with the concert coming at the beginning of the school year.
“It was fantastic. Beautiful night, we had a great crowd in this new room. I’m really proud of the students,” Gage said. “We had six rehearsals and we put on this show, so that’s really amazing.”
He said he was equally impressed with how well his three graduate student conductors performed.
“It’s amazing. This is our 15th year of having a graduate conducting program. These are three in a line of people,” he said. “What a great experience it is for them to work with this band, to apply their craft, and obviously I’m very proud of them.”
Scales, who is from Georgia, conducted one of the more popular pieces of the night when he led the ensemble through music from the hit Nintendo video game, Super Mario Brothers. The performance even caught the eye of fellow graduate student and conductor Johnson.
“Watching Scales do the Mario Brothers … I know he had to have worked so hard on that. He did it from memory and I was really proud of that. It was a complicated piece, he really worked hard,” Johnson said.
Gage also enjoyed the Super Mario Brothers piece, even calling it his favorite part of the performance.
“My favorite part was maybe the Mario Brothers. Believe it or not, I’m a Mario fan and there have been times in my life when I have obsessed about it,” Gage said.
While Scales’ Mario Brothers piece was a fan-favorite, he found performing outdoors to be very different than performing indoors.
“I think we did pretty well. It’s just a different environment being out here. You know, just a different type of concert. Last year, when we did the pops concert, it was at Warren and they had a shell. So it’s just the acoustics are really different,” Scales said. “It went well, just different.”
Johnson also thought the concert as a whole went well. She was mostly impressed by how well the orchestra worked together, which is a big reason as to why the audience was so involved in the performance.
“Everybody was really focused and there was a good team spirit — like let’s make this happen and share with the audience — and I think we saw that with audience participation and saw people smiling and it was a good time,” Johnson said.