On Monday, May 10, the Buford High School Band of Wolves presented its first spring concert under first-year band directors Mr. Erik Mason and Ms. Bridget Wildes, also the first of its kind at the new Buford High School Performing Arts Center. Two high school concert bands, a jazz band, one percussion ensemble and three directors joined forces to present the 90-minute custom production, “Not All Heroes Wear Capes.”
An excited Mr. Mason said with a chuckle, “I really started out wanting to play a concert of all ‘Star Wars’ music — especially from ‘The Mandalorian’ — because we thought that would look really cool with lights!”
The “cool gadgetry” of the new Performing Arts Center was put to good use with a high energy light show and accompanying custom edited video pieces, offering the performers and audience a new kind of experience.
“We quickly realized we couldn’t sustain an hour-long concert with just ‘Star Wars’ music, and it kind of morphed and opened up into all kinds of heroes — both mythical heroes from literature and everyday heroes in real life,” Mason said.
Wildes added, “In these tumultuous days we live in, we felt like it was important for us to find a way to celebrate all of the heroes around us; and this concert allowed us to talk to the students about heroes in their lives, both big and small.”
One of the director’s favorites of the night was a piece showcasing highlights from the soundtrack of “The Cowboys,” an old John Wayne movie. This was one of John Williams’ first movie score compositions in the early 1970’s.
“I think that gave the kids an exposure to music they may not have heard or gotten to play otherwise,” Mason said.
The Band of Wolves’ wind ensemble is the upper level, auditioned band at the high school, and was one of the three bands that performed along with the BHS percussion ensemble under the direction of Mr. Matt Groves. Four seniors in the wind ensemble (Isaac Arroyo, Luis DeLira, Tyler Bare and Reece Martin) were featured in a brass quartet in “The Ascension,” the third of four movements from Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” by well-known band composer Robert W. Smith.
Younger audience members were delighted by the music, supplemental video and red and yellow lightshow as the theme from “The Incredibles” filled the theater.
“I want to stress how much of the conceptualization and realization of the concert itself was Mrs. Wildes. She was the one who was able to fill in the blanks and bring the ideas to life, working with David Kimbro for days on the lighting design, designing the set pieces, and editing the videos we used,” Mason said.
The concert band also played an exceptionally entertaining song called “Band of Heroes” by composer Erika Svanoe. The piece was written with the intention of sounding like an old 8-bit video game and featured a narrator and video. Instead of using the prefab slide show the composer provided with the score, Wildes took photos and videos of BHS students in costume, acting out the corresponding scenes, and integrated those photos into a video that delighted the audience with familiarity and hometown pride. Administrators, teachers, parents and students alike were thrilled and overwhelmed by the entire presentation, rushing to their feet for a final standing ovation.
“It was an exceptional concert that had the feel of a professional show … incredibly entertaining, well-executed and very well prepared,” said Dr. Chris Fowler, fine arts coordinator for Buford City Schools.
“Mrs. Wildes and I wanted to create something special, new and different for the parents,” Mason said. “Without David Kimbro, we wouldn’t have been able to do that. We are so grateful for his creativity, dedication and passion.
“We really wanted to give the audience something they’d never experienced before. And where on earth could you even do that, other than Buford?”