Saturday, August 24, 2013

Indianapolis Brass Choir closes 2013 summer concert series at Garfield Park

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but until Thursday, it had been five years since I walked the very short distance from my home to Garfield Park in Indianapolis to enjoy any of the free performances that are part of the weekly summer concert series sponsored by IndyParks.

In 2008, I saw and photographed the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis, a great show conducted by Orcenith Smith, director of the DePauw University Orchestra. I vowed to come back often to experience the various other ensembles that perform in the series. Well, based on what I said in my opening sentence of this post, you know how that resolution fared.

The Indianapolis Brass Choir performed Thursday, the final show in the 2013 series at MacAllister Center for the Performing Arts. This all-volunteer brass ensemble of professionals and serious amateurs presented a delightful and varied program that opened with Irving Berlin's There's No Business Like Show Business and romped through a Top 40 hit, Celebrate (Kool & the Gang), a string of tunes from the Disney production of Pirates of the Caribbean, a medley of Indiana university and college fight songs, an armed forces salute and the closing, God Bless America.

While the show closed the summer series at Garfield Park, it also opened the ensemble's 2013-14 schedule, which has three more dates this year (one each in September, October and November) and four in the first part of the new year, one each in February, March, April and May.

Curiously, there were at least two on-stage common denominators from my visits in 2008 and Thursday -- Charles "Rusty" Briel, a trombonist with both ensembles and also associate conductor of the Brass Choir, and French horn player Suzanne Snyder, also a member of both ensembles.

Briel conducted a few numbers on Thursday's program in lieu of music director and conductor Robert Grechesky, who led the ensemble for the main portion of the program. I came to shoot with two cameras, each equipped with different lenses, both Canon f/2.8L constant lenses (24-70mm and 70-200mm IS), but I ended up using the 70-200mm almost exclusively. It was on a Canon 7D; the shorter lens was on a 30D.

One of the fun aspects of Thursday's shoot was exploiting the pockets of natural, golden spotlight provided by sunbeams filtering through the park trees to the west of the amphitheater's stage. You can see an example in the lead photograph. Notice scattered instances of golden or orange highlights sprinkled within the band. I chased as many of those highlights as possible in closeups before the sun sank too low and shut down that special treat, which probably was annoying to the performers, who had to look right into it while it lasted.

Also in the lead photo, where the ensemble is conducted by Grechesky, notice trombonist Rusty Briel on the far right. He would conduct two numbers in a short while.

An album of all my shots from this shoot can be found at my site at SmugMug.

Above and next five below: Exploiting the natural solar spotlights ...

Above: Grechesky introduced ensemble treasurer Jim Williams (also featured among the two euphonium players in the photo immediately above this) in the "commercial" portion of the program, when Grechesky explained that the performers are not paid for their services, and that donations and contributions are welcome. He said if patrons didn't get a program to refer to the Brass Choir's website, they could speak personally to Williams after the performance.

Above and below: Framing and getting the above image sharp was a challenge, considering the awkward vantage point. I was on the opposite side -- and opposite end -- of the stage when I took this shot of trumpet player Terri Ewigleben. Later in the program, I managed to frame her between two fellow trumpeters from a side vantage point.


Above: I picked three or four images to convert to monochrome, and this was my favorite. 

Above: All photographers have throw-away files, "mistakes." Every once in a while, though, I play with one of my "mistakes" ... and can find something of interest. That's what happened here. This file was overexposed beyond salvaging in its normal form, but I tinkered with the excess ever so slightly, evolving it into a high-contrast impression (OK, to dub it with some dignity, let's call it "fine art!"), converted it to black-and-white, then converted that to sepia ... and I liked what I ended up with. I would understand if you did not.

Above and next two below: Grechesky at the helm.


Above and next two below: Briel at the helm.

Above: A look at a portion of the audience as Briel saw it from the stage.

Above: Before the ensemble launched into the medley of Indiana university and college fight songs, Grechesky invited members of the audience to stand when they heard their school's song. Nobody stood (that I could see) until near the end of the medley, when the IU fight song played and these people stood (and one or two behind them). Grechesky concluded the medley with the fight song for Butler University, where he is director of bands and professor of music in the Jordan College of Fine Arts, and I didn't see anyone stand for that ... but I might have missed a quick up-and-down stand, if there were any. 
Above: Before the show started, this girl played on the concrete platform that bands requiring electric power use for their sound board and technicians.

Above and below: Two views of the amphitheater. 

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