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The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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Presidents Concert stuns with special guest

Whitney Veazey
Dr. Yi-Min Cai plays the piano.

Guests gathered together at the Norton Auditorium on April 12 to witness the yearly President’s Concert by the University of North Alabama Bands. 

The two-hour show featured five bands within the College of the Arts, Sciences and Engineering. The show also had a special guest–Dr. Yi-Min Cai. 

Dr. Cai is a professor of Piano at the university and is a former child prodigy from Shanghai. She has won a multitude of accolades from all over the world, and she received her Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Manhattan School of Music.

At this event, Cai performed her last show with UNA, “Rhapsody in Blue,” with the Wind Symphony – directed by Dr. Lloyd Jones. The piece is an 18-minute piece written by George Gershwin in 1924 that features a spotlight on the pianist. This was the second song in the concert, but it was the statement of the evening. 

The first piece of the night was “Whirlwinds” by Richard Saucedo, also directed by Jones, UNA’s director of Bands. The piece kicked off the evening with a high tempo and ear-catching song. Coming in at three minutes, the piece was energizing and fun to experience as the audience tuned in and adjusted to the type of music the night would hold. 

After a short intermission, the Symphonic Band – Directed by Dr. Joe Gray – took the stage and played a moving piece of “Shine On!” by Nathan Daughtrey. Jones described the piece to align with UNA’s current fundraiser, “Shine On, Gold,” a comprehensive campaign for the university to raise $100 million for the new Bank Independent Stadium. At seven minutes, the piece got to highlight the symphonic band’s hard work. 

The next piece was the “Armed Forces Salute” to highlight all the men, women, and family members of those in the armed forces. 

After another short intermission, the Combined Mass Band took the stage. Directed by Jones, the band kicked off with “Old Scottish Melody (Auld Lang Syne)” by Charles A. Wiley, a slower piece that showcased the entirety of the band’s talents and skills. The next piece was the “Kirkpatrick Fanfare” by Andrew Boysen Jr., and at three minutes, it took audience members on a trip of a soft to strong build into an energizing song that rallied the spirits of the audience. 

Directed by Dr. Tracy Wiggins, the Percussion Ensemble showcased a piece written by Ivan Trevino played entirely on one instrument. Four UNA students–Nathan Van Berkom, Eli Bell, Keegan Herron and Grayson Herron–showcased “Watercolor Sun” and moved the audience with the sounds of the marimba. This was followed by a traditional intermission to transition to the Studio Jazz band. 

The final band of the evening played three songs and one encore. The Studio Jazz band, also led by Jones, played “Duke Ellington Suite,” which was set by Jones. The piece featured  Solomon Heinkel–a junior majoring in Music Performance in the arts department–as the star saxophonist during the piece. The smooth piece allowed Heinkel to show off his skills. 

“Jive at Five” by John Berry was a traditional jazz song that would be expected of a jazz band. The song has a nice flow that the audience could tap their shoes to. The piece featured a light on the flute section of the band, which Jones commended and said does not get a lot of recognition. 

The last song listed on the program was “Niner Two” by Don Ellis. Jones played the triangle in this one-of-a-kind piece, announcing to the audience that the part “was too hard for anyone else.” The five-minute piece was a bookend for the concert, as it was an energizing and moving selection. 

Jones announced the band would play an encore and started “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Louis Prima, featuring Colin Burks on the drums, Natalie Spence on clarinet and Simon Edward on piano. The song resembled a traditional swing dance song and was a nice way to end the evening.

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About the Contributors
Trenedy Parks
Trenedy Parks, News Editor
Trenedy Parks is a sophomore from Fayetteville, Tenne. She is working towards a bachelor’s degree in journalism and digital media. She has worked as a staff writer for The Flor-Ala since Aug. 2022, and as News Editor since Aug. 2023. Her goals as a writer are to learn more about Florence and its community and to become more involved with the people of UNA.
Whitney Veazey
Whitney Veazey, Chief Photographer
Whitney is a sophomore from Greenville, Ala. She is working towards a BFA with a concentration in photography. Whitney started at The Flor-Ala in Fall 2022 as a staff writer/photographer and is currently serving as chief photographer.

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