By RA Monaco
You didn’t have to go to Cuba to Get-Your-Mambo-On Thursday night—Wheaton was the place to be! The Mambo—one of the most sensual forms of dance and music—was alive and well with the swaying hips of dancers from DeSarge Dance World and the rhythms of the Mambo Greats medley performed by the Wheaton Municipal Band.
Aspiring dancers’ got-steppin’ early with the instructional assistance of Edward “Sarge” Sargent who put about 40 people through tango and mambo dance-drills before the concert. For a second year, “Sarge” simplified the complicated Latin foot-work getting the audience “mambasized” and looking smooth for the Band’s evening performance.
Wheaton’s Thursday night concerts at Memorial Park—one block from the Metra west line—has become a summer evening destination for many Chicago area families who often come to picnic while enjoying weekly thematic performances and guest soloists. Did someone mention, “Free”—you bet!
The program opened with a composition from Wheaton's own Steve Cross titled, “Festival March”—his second composition for the band in as many years.
Returning guest soloist, Technical Sergeant Joseph M. Bello—current principal euphonium with the USAF Band in Washington, D.C.—was featured on two compositions. Before the concert Bello remarked, “I’m home” as the former Naperville resident and Wheaton Municipal Band member announced plans to retire from the Air Force in August to pursue a Ph.D. at Northwestern University.
Performing, Slovonic Dances of Dvorak—the James Currow arrangement of Anton Dvorak’s compositions—showed how the 90 member organization has grown their reputation since 1930.
The dance troupe from DeSarge Dance World and the audience stepped onto the dance floor to Leroy Anderson’s Blue Tango showing off what they’d learned before the program.
Following a brief intermission, the audience enjoyed a familiar Marvin Hamlisch Showcase.
Long time music director Bruce Moss attempted to close the program with the lively Dance of the Tumblers, a Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov composition—possibly the band’s best performance of the evening.
However, accustomed to the conductor’s well established practice of multiple encores, the audience sat patiently waiting for a march to end the evening. The internationally recognized ensemble ended the evening with the familiar John Philip Sousa march, The Washington Post.
Each week the Wheaton Municipal Band features conductors and soloists from military bands and major universities across the country. The ensemble has also enjoyed guest performances from members of the Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Toledo, and Honolulu symphony orchestras.
Featured with the U.S. Marine Band, The Blossom Festival Band and the Allentown (Pa.) Band, the Wheaton Municipal Band was part of a documentary on the life of John Philip Sousa produced for the PBS series, The American Experience.
Wheaton’s 2014 Thursday evening concert schedule concludes August 14th with a Big Band Jazz Concert led by Elmhurst College Professor Doug Beach.