Wilton High School Band Knocks It Out Of the Park

The high school's band director steps up to the plate in his student's absence, and wows the crowd with simultaneous soloing and conducting.

When life threw band director Mr. Frank Gawle a curve ball at Wednesday night's band concert, like a true team player he knocked it out of the park. 

The problem Gawle had was that his trumpet soloist for the Jazz Ensemble also happened to be the starting pitcher for the Wilton High School boy's baseball team. Mr. Gawle stalled the best he could and even switched the song order to try to accommodate his trumpeter's absence, but to no avail. 

Gawle then ran offstage while a soft murmur filled the auditorium.  Anxious listeners whispered to each other wondering what was going on. 

Gawle returned a short time later with a smile on his face and his trumpet in his hand.  But that wasn't the end of the problem.  Gawle stared wide-eyed at the sheet music before him suddenly realizing, "oh, now I have to transpose this too."

On the fly, unrehearsed, Gawle came through in the clutch playing the trumpet solo magnificently while directing the jazz band at the same time.  His right hand played lead while his left hand conducted the band. Loud cheers and enthusiastic claps followed along with a big sigh of relief from Gawle.

The Concert Band opened the evening's program, led by Mr. John Rhodes.  The band played two pieces that they will also perform for adjudication, Winged Victory and Deerpath Dances.  The final song was Goddess of Fire, which featured a number of soloists.

The Jazz Ensemble II played next with two selections to be performed at adjudication, Alegria Latina and Moanin'. The student's practice and preparation was readily apparent.

Mr. Gawle's impromptu solo on Harlem Nocturne followed after the Jazz Ensemble I band stalled with the piece Filthy McNasty, a song that Gawle explained could not be performed on stage when it was first written due to the racy title. After graciously accepting the audience's accolades Gawle said, "well at least he will be able to play it at adjudication," referring to the soloist who didn't get back in time.  He then joked, "I hope they at least won!"

The final group of the evening was the Wilton High School Wind Ensemble playing First Suite in Eb by Gustav Holst and Incantation and Dance by John Barnes Chance.  The wind ensemble includes 79 students playing flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, saxophones, horns and percussion.  The group also features an additional jazz and rhythm section adding finesse with bells and timpani.

The Wilton High School Band, along with the Chorus, and Orchestra all participate in the boosters.  The band boosters are led by Booster President Doon Foster.  Together along with the direction of band instructors John Rhodes and Frank Gawle, they prepare students for adjudication in April.  The band will be traveling to Hershey, Pennsylvania for it.


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