Mercer Wind Ensemble and Rutland High band combine for joint concert

wind musicians wearing black perform on stage
Director of Bands Brittan Braddock directs the Mercer Wind Ensemble during an Oct. 10 concert at The Grand Opera House.

The Mercer Wind Ensemble and Rutland High School band are teaming up for a joint concert Nov. 14 in the high school’s auditorium.

It will be the first joint concert between Mercer University and Rutland High since before the pandemic.

The concert encapsulates what Mercer’s music education is really about while inspiring the next generation of college musicians, said Brittan Braddock, director of bands at Mercer.

“I’ve got a really good crew of music education majors,” she said. “I’ve been preparing them mentally, to take on that mentorship role. … It’s just going to be a cool opportunity for the music ed students but also for the high school students to maybe learn a thing or two.

“Also, some of the high school students might come and bring it, and it’s going to motivate my players to do better. So I’m all about it.”

Rutland’s band, directed by Sara Elliott, will perform the first three pieces of the concert. After an intermission, the Mercer Wind Ensemble will take the stage for three pieces before both bands join together for the finale. Combined, they’ll be a band of about 100 players.

“That’s the amazing thing about music. (Elliott) has a set of music and a score. I have a set of music and a score. We’ve been rehearsing separately,” Braddock said. “And then we’re going to bring it all together and create this experience for the audience.

“So, I think that shows the universal quality of music, and I think that’s why we all love it.”

For this concert, Braddock said she chose music that would challenge her players and was hopeful and fun in nature.

One of the Mercer Wind Ensemble’s pieces is “Esprit de Corps,” which is inspired by the Marines’ hymn. Braddock said she chose to include this piece to recognize the history of the area and to celebrate the military presence.

“I wanted to make sure to feature that type of music, especially because it’s really close to Veterans Day,” she said.

Other songs include a piece by composer Percy Grainger, “Arabian Dances” by Brian Balmages, and “Melody Shop” by Karl King, among others. “Melody Shop” will feature the euphonium.

“It’s one of those low brass instruments that has the ability for high, fast facility,” Braddock said.

Nathan Gay, Mercer’s athletic bands director and associate professor of music, will play the euphonium along with four other Mercer students from the ensemble. The quintet will end the Mercer part of the program playing a fast section of “Melody Shop,” which Braddock said will be a neat moment in the concert.

Elliott said her students have been busy with an alumni marching band, a parade and pep band for football season. They now have been preparing for the joint concert with Mercer. She said her band is excited about it, especially after not being able to perform much over the past couple of years due to COVID-19.

The concert will be a homecoming for Matthew Brooks, a current member of Mercer’s band who graduated as the valedictorian of his class at Rutland. Braddock said he will play timpani and percussion in the concert.

Elliott said there will be music that the audience can relate to and enjoy.

“I think it’ll be a good introduction to this kind of concert for people that maybe haven’t experienced the Mercer Wind Ensemble or a concert like this before,” she said.

The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the auditorium at Rutland High, located at 6250 Skipper Road in Macon.


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