As the Fillmore Central bands prepare for the spring concert, the senior high symphonic band has been given a very special task. The instrumentalists will be presenting the world premiere of "Convergence," an original composition by the band's director, Lane Powell.

The concert is to be held on Monday, April 28, at 8 p.m. in the high school varsity gym in Harmony. Performing that night, in addition to the symphonic band, will be the fifth and sixth grade concert band and the seventh and eighth grade concert band.

"Convergence" was commissioned by the McKnight Foundation through the Minnesota Southeast Arts Council (SEMAC). "Convergence" is a new concert band work that will be distributed to all of the schools in southeast Minnesota, free of charge as part of this grant.

Powell explained that he created the grant proposal with the following concept in mind: to write a piece of music about southeast Minnesota, to be played by students from southeast Minnesota, written by a composer who lives in Southeast Minnesota.

Monday night's concert serves as a "capstone event" for the grant process.

After Monday night's premiere, each school in the counties served by SEMAC will have free electronic access to the recording, score and parts for this music. That is a savings of approximately $100 per school to add a new piece of music to their existing libraries, Powell added.

"The music itself was created to depict how so many things tend to 'converge' in our area," Powell explained. "The tempo marking of the opening section is 152 beats per minute, to symbolize Highway 52 that runs north and south through our area. The middle section is indicated at 90 beats per minute (or a bit faster) to indicate Highway 90, which runs east and west, and tends to have a little faster speed limit to it."

Powell noted in his program notes that listeners will hear a tribal-like chant in the low brass and reeds after the first celebratory statement.

"It repeats with a haunting theme in the low octave of the saxophones and brass," he added. "Based on a pentatonic scale used in Sioux Indian cultures, this section invokes the feelings of the first humans to converge on our area."

Powell went on to explain this brief section is quickly followed by a more boisterous section that includes a brake drum, sounding like the railroad system converging on the lands.

This same section of music contains chords that are based on open fifths and fourths, similar to the pioneer style music inherent in the music of American composer, Aaron Copland. It is meant to depict the settlement of this area by immigrants from the Eastern United States.

The third section of the piece is time itself, the convergence of different historical events on "fast forward" through the late 1800s and early 1900s.

"It also was written to mimic the movement of water over time through our many rivers, like water under the bridge," Powell noted. "It culminates with an emphatic rhythm signifying the arrival of the modern age. It is followed up quickly by the main theme from the opening."

The middle, slower section of the piece was created to highlight the beauty of the cultures that settled in the area, specifically that of Scandinavian traditions. It starts with a rich lullaby in the flutes and clarinets and builds to an open sounding brass melody that shows the beauty of and majesty the bluff country. All of this culminates in a convergence of these themes in a sonorous musical proclamation!

The final section is based on the concept of convergence itself. It is a convergence of several of the melodic and harmonic motives found throughout the piece. The composer layers these ideas into a driving and inspirational conclusion.

Powell extends his gratitude to the McKnight Foundation and the Southeast Minnesota Arts Council for their support of this project.

In addition to Monday night's concert, other band events coming up include Daniel Leahy's Sextet performance at Wheelers on Friday, May 2, at 7 p.m. and the Big Band Bash dinner concert on Saturday evening, May 3. The Friday night concert is open to the public with admission of $10 at the door. The Big Band Bash admission is $20, with advance tickets only. Call Fillmore Central at (507) 886-6464 for ticket availability.