The best of both worlds

UB Concert Band and Genkin Philharmonic shine at Slee Hall


University concert band dress codes don’t usually call for vibrant, sequin-infused clothing. Tuesday night was a little different.

The UB Concert Band, led by music department Professor Jon Nelson, shared the stage with Genkin Philharmonic for their annual fall performance at Slee Hall. The two groups came together to present “A Young Person’s Guide to the 20th Century.”

The philharmonic and UB Concert Band were polar opposites in every sense.

The concert band dressed in seemingly average concert-wear, while the Genkin Philharmonic decked themselves out in colorful floral suit jackets, sequin hats and capes along with cultural attire. The concert band remained poised during the show while the philharmonic electrically performed, rocking through the entirety of the 55-minute performance.

Both groups united to produce coherent and exciting music, despite their visible differences.

Genkin Philharmonic’s guitarist and UB alum, Zane Merritt, felt combining their group with the UB Concert Band resulted in effortless success.

“It felt good coming out here. I went to UB and other music schools so it was a familiar feeling,” Merritt said. “It was pretty easy incorporating us in and took minimal rehearsal to do the parts and play with everyone else.”

The audience’s excitement hit its peak during the show’s finale –– Jon Nelson’s arrangement of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Kashmir.”

Genkin wind player, Steve Baczkowski, opened the song with his bright attire and even brighter horn playing. Baczkowski clearly got into the performance as he bounced in place and flicked his head around, despite having a baritone saxophone dangling from his neck.

The horn-playing, paired with some enticing hand drumming, caught the scattered crowd’s attention.

But the UB Concert Band kept the crowd’s eyes and ears to the stage.

Nelson led the student musicians through the majority of the song until its grand finale, but his leadership wasn’t just evident in his conducting.

When he stepped off the podium halfway through the song, Nelson joined his students and took on the trumpet. This display was just one of many which proved his musical diversity.

James Quinn, a sophomore international business major, attended the performance to fulfill his concert requirement for his Understanding Music course.

“I heard a few songs I liked, especially the Led Zeppelin one,” Quinn said. “It was much better than I anticipated and I shouldn’t have had such a negative mindset going into it because it was actually kind of fun.”

Arnold Schoenberg’s “Sehr langsam” also proved to be a highlight of the night. The piece isn’t classic rock, but its varied sections and solos revealed the show’s tremendous diversity, keeping the audience on their toes.

The concert band’s pianist and Advanced Certificate in Contemporary Music Performance student, Jiheng Tang, showcased her dexterous talent in the piece’s minimalist intro and outro. Her delicate playing perfectly setup the piece and closed it in style.

The meat of the piece was just as enjoyable.

The band proved its endurance with held out notes. They tinkered with the act of call-and-response, and in the process, Nelson displayed his range of musicality again.

He hopped off the podium just to jump onto his signature “drumbass.”

Nick Mcnally, a freshman aerospace engineering major, plays trombone for the UB Concert Band. He anticipated a larger crowd but still thinks that the performance went over well due to the uniqueness of the night.

“Our instructor, Mr. Jon Nelson, wrote all of the arrangements for us. He just fit in the rock band with everyone and it sounded really good,” Mcnally said. “I’ve never done anything like [‘Kashmir’] with a full blown rock song and playing the backing part. That was a great time.”

Brenton Blanchet is an arts editor and can be reached at





Brenton J. Blanchet is The Spectrum's editor-in-chief and a senior communication major. He specializes in interviews with rising pop stars, but makes sure to still give UB the news scoop. Blanchet contributes to Billboard, DJBooth, and other publications in his free time.