Among the highlights of the Andover Band and Orchestra's Scott Boerma's "Isle of Skye," at the Edinburgh Easter Festival Gala concert on April 8 in Scotland.
Boerma, the Director of the University of Michigan Marching Band, Donald R. Shepherd Associate Professor of Conducting, and nationally known composer and arranger, was at Andover High School himself on March 28 to help the students prepare for the memorable performance.
The work was commissioned in honor of Robert H. Ambrose in his 27th year as Director of Bands at Andover High School by the Andover Instrumental Music Supporters. "Isle of Skye" is written for band and solo French horn. Ambrose's daughter, Katy Ambrose, was also on hand to rehearse with the band as the featured soloist. She holds music degrees from U-M, where she received the William D. Revelli award, and the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.
She received her artist diploma from Yale University, where she also received the Henry and Lucy Moses fellowship. She plays currently with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, and accompanied the Andover group to perform the premiere of "Isle of Skye," 2012 at St. Cuthbert's Church in Edinburgh, where it was greeted with a standing ovation.
"Having traveled to Scotland several years prior, my initial memories kept taking me back to a vision of the Hebrides islands while passing them on a cruise ship at dusk," the composer wrote while describing the piece. "The misty, mountainous landscape of the Isle of Skye aroused mysterious and majestic feelings as I wrote. Although no Scottish folk melodies are used and no attempt to create similar tunes was made, allusions to bag pipe drones and hunting horn calls appear throughout the work. The horn solo is crafted to exploit the singular talents of Katy Ambrose, who premiered the work."
Boerma's concert band works have been performed by many outstanding ensembles, including the Dallas Wind Symphony, the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, the University of Illinois Wind Symphony, the University of North Texas Wind Symphony, the University of Michigan Concert Band, the BOA Honor Band of America, and the Interlochen Arts Camp World Youth Wind Symphony, to name just a few. His works have been heard in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Hill Auditorium, the Myerson Symphony Center, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and at the Chicago Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic.
In addition to several other corps in the United States, Boerma has arranged for marching bands and drum corps from Japan, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and Thailand. Competitive high school bands around the world have enjoyed great success with Boerma's charts. Other credits include marching band arrangements for the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Texas (both Austin and Arlington), the University of Illinois, Texas Tech University, Baylor University, and Jacksonville State University. Most of the Big Ten University marching bands have performed Boerma's arrangements. He also writes arrangements for the Detroit Chamber Winds Brass.
The composition serves as a fitting tribute to Mr. Ambrose, our dedicated, talented and much-appreciated Director of Andover Bands.
This trip had special significance as it will be the last trip for the group under the "Andover" banner due to the merger of Andover and into a unified Bloomfield Hills High School in the Fall of 2013.
This article was submitted by Patch reader Brenda Zureick, the mother of three current or former Bloomfield Hills Schools students, including a senior at Andover. She is helping promote the Andover Instrumental Music Supporters.