By Shelley Koppel
The Melbourne Municipal Band will take audiences on a musical voyage to distant lands as it presents a free "Magic Carpet Ride" concert Wednesday and Thursday, April 18-19.
The concert will feature songs that evoke exotic locales, from Arabia to Persia and points in between.
Nicole Scott, piccolo and flute player with the Brevard Symphony Orchestra, will be the guest soloist, performing Tchaikovsky's "Canzonetta."
She will also play an improvisational solo at the beginning of Samuel Hazo's "Arabesque."
Also on the program are Armenian dances by Khachaturian, "In a Persian Market" by Ketelbey and a medley of tunes from the Disney movie "Aladdin."
For Staci Cleveland, conductor of the Melbourne Municipal Band, this concert has been two years in the making.
"The concert centers around 'Arabesque,'" she said. "It was written in 2008. The composer, Samuel Hazo, found nothing that fit this mode in the wind ensemble literature. I liked it so much I decided it would be fun to design a concert around it.
"The composer is of Lebanese and Syrian descent, and it's based on the mystical sounds of Middle Eastern music. The improvisation at the beginning sets the mood, and it's a lot of fun to play."
Tchaikovsky was Russian, so the "Canzonetta" is a bit of a detour on the route.
"That's what puts the 'magic' in magic carpet ride," Ms. Cleveland said. "We can go anywhere. That's the beauty of a magic carpet ride."
The Khatchaturian dances and the Ketelbey piece return to the Middle Eastern theme. Ketelbey was an English composer, but he wrote "In a Persian Market" to bring the sights and sounds of the marketplace to the audience.
"It's the story of a princess going to a Persian market," Ms. Cleveland said. "It's storytelling through music. I will tell the audience before so that the audience will hear things."
Ms. Cleveland noted that the title of the music is not familiar to audiences, but the music is because it has appeared on television and in commercials.
The final trip on the carpet will be a medley from Disney's "Aladdin."
"Sally Otero has purchased the music for the band for this," Ms. Cleveland said. "It fits in with the theme and is a lot of fun. It's eight minutes long and includes a lot of good music, like 'A Whole New World,' 'One Jump Ahead,' Jafar's Theme' and 'Friend like Me.' We're having a lot of fun rehearsing it, and we go out singing. Bring the grandchildren."
The Melbourne Municipal Band was established in 1965 and presents free concerts in Brevard County nearly every month. Approximately 30 percent of the band's members are professional musicians. The band often features guest artists.
For Ms. Cleveland, this concert is about a different world.
"I wanted the Middle East to be the middle of it, but I wanted the liberty to go elsewhere. That's the magic carpet."
The Melbourne Municipal Band, with guest artist Nicole Scott, presents a free concert "Magic Carpet Ride," April 18-19 at the Melbourne Auditorium, 625 E. Hibiscus Blvd., Melbourne. The pre-show performance of the Sunshine Brass Quintet begins at 6:30 p.m., and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m.
For more information, visit the website www.melbournemunicipalband.org. or call (321) 724-0555.