for the love of band

Kresge Auditorium seemed a bit ceremonial for the MIT Concert Band’s sparsely attended spring performance. I was there only on a post-Anna’s burrito whim, but once inside the sloping building, I was pleased with my choice. On the stage: (it must be said) the nerdiest of the nerds, the band geeks amongst the sci-tech elite, yet they had as much pizazz as the Pops, playing the night’s program with aplomb.

As the acoustically perfect music moved in waves around me, I was transported back to middle school band, itchy polyester outfits, and those interminable spring concerts of our own. I remembered which of my classmates played what instrument. Music was the great equalizer; future cum laude stars struggled with their reed instruments as steady-B-minus students shined on theirs. Our band teacher tried to pick music that might be interesting to us while still staying true to her high-brow orchestral roots. We found compromise in the Indiana Jones score or the Simpsons music.

Here at MIT, they kicked things up a notch, bringing in an alto sax soloist for the four-part second act and flying through a peppy Leonard Bernstein piece for a finale. Still, despite their exceptional playing abilities, I knew these kids’ experience as well as I once knew my trusty flute.

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