The Stony Brook University Varsity Band has been preparing for their fifth annual concert, which is scheduled for April 21, since the beginning of the semester. The Statesman was invited to sit in on their rehearsal at the Student Activity Center auditorium on April 10.
Before the conductor entered the auditorium, the band was already in high spirits, chatting and warming up with scales and arpeggios, filling the space with a melodic buzz. This rehearsal was just one of the group’s biweekly practices. With one week until the concert, the anticipation and enthusiasm among the band members was palpable.
“The biggest thing for this concert is hearing what we played throughout the entire year be put in one final composite,” Yajvin Dabbiru, one of the band’s drummers, said. “This is the best we are going to sound for this version of the band, and hearing this unique set of songs being played by a unique set of musicians is always exciting.”
The Varsity Band Spring Concert is where the band gets to shine and showcase their own passions outside of cheering on Stony Brook’s sport events. With the stunning display of technical proficiency and articulated measures, it’s clear that the musicians put in countless hours of practice to hone their craft to an exceptional level. From the heavy and dominant beats to the punchy and vibrant rhythms, the band displayed a remarkable range of dynamics and expression that made the music come alive. The percussion transitions between the medley’s sections and the intricate interplay between different instruments added to the lavishness of the sound.
“Every year since coming back from COVID, we just keep getting stronger and more tight knit as a group. The concerts are a good way to encompass that and play that along with our playing abilities,” Katie Scialabba, who plays the mellophone, said. “It’s a whole two hours of just us playing our repertoire. It’s our moment to shine.”
Handpicked musical selections by the band include songs from “The Phantom of the Opera” and iconic lively tunes such as “Tequila” by The Champs and “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. With special guests including Stony Brook’s Spirit Squad, Taiko Tides and Wolfie, the concert’s joyful energy is simply infectious. The audience will find themselves completely immersed in the music and feeling the school spirit that will permeate the venue.
“Some people find [the concert] surprising in a way of how energetic it can be,” Dabbiru said. “This is like a rock show that has a lot of lights, music and entertainment going on. And it’s always fun to see [the audience’s] reaction.”
In certain parts of the set, the band hollered and whooped, which is sure to encourage the crowd to join in and become part of the performance. But even in the midst of the enthusiasm, the musicians never lost their attention to detail, resulting in a perfect balance of technique and showmanship. No doubt that come concert day, the audience will buzz with energy and enthusiasm.
“There’s nothing more Stony Brook than this show! Between great, varied music, guest performers, [and] school spirit, our show really does have it all and is the most unique concert on campus every year,” Justin Stolarik, director of bands, said in an email to The Statesman.
The concert will be held on Friday, April 21, at 7 p.m. at Island Federal Arena. If the band played exquisitely in rehearsal, you definitely don’t want to miss the final performance at the concert. Tickets are available here.
“It’s a different vibe, different energy than the previous concerts,” Joe Martinez, who plays the mellophone, said. “It’s a whole lot of fun.”