Broadway Showtime with John Lanni and the Emeritus Band
The seats were all filled up at The Broad Stage as the audience was ready to listen to some show tunes. It was called the "Broadway Showtime
Concert" and it was played by the Santa Monica College Emeritus College Band at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, at the SMC Performing Arts Center at the Madison Campus.
There was a new conductor in the band, his name John Lanni, who did not have a baton, but later on in the show the audience would find out why.
The instrumental ensemble consisted of mainly wind and percussion instruments as they began with what was called "Broadway show stoppers" as the band played tunes from such Broadway
and film hits like "My Fair Lady" and "The Bandwagon." From there, they went into a delightful piece called "Army of the Nile" which sounded like a band march of old. Even with conductor Lanni's microphone having technical difficulties at time, Lanni tried to talk to the audience about the songs. "This song
is about American spirituals with tunes you may find familiar like 'swing low, sweet chariot'," Lanni said as he began to conduct the "celebration of American spirituals" songs.
Throughout the show, the audience cheered when the band played selections from the Broadway
show "Camelot" which was a hit in the early 60s and was a show that has been synonymous with the Kennedy family. "I left my heart in San Francisco" was positively beautiful and romantic as the saxophones, horns, flutes and clarinets reverberated into a melancholy sadness
which the song is about, a lost love that is not a person but the city by the bay.
"The next songs are American folk songs and be aware of the French horn at the beginning, the four movements of this suite and listen for the oboe, the English and French horn," Lanni said
as he conducted the American folk song suite that consisted with tunes like "Go 'Way from My Window", "John Henry" and "Mama Don't Allow."
"I'm sure you'll be familiar with these tunes," Lanni said with an endearing smile as he introduced the "Oklahoma" medley from the famous
Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. With the help of percussion such as the kettle drums and the cymbals it did seem like the winds of Oklahoma
were sweeping down the stage and not the plain.
Without the use of the baton, Lanni used his hands to express the emotion he wanted the musicians to transfer through their instruments at times wanting a more powerful sound from the clarinets and trumpets which conveyed into a wondrous piece of musical symphonic art.
After Phillip Souza's "El Capitan" piece with its patriotic sound, it was already time for
the last song of the afternoon. "It's fun to have a great audience, a great band, it is fun," Lanni said as he talked about how he enjoyed the applause and cheers from the audience. "We put on four concerts a year and we
invite you to all of them," Lanni said.
Their last medley was selections from the famous movie musical, "The Music Man," with show tunes like "76 trombones" and "Til there was you" played. When they finished their set,
the audience gave them a standing ovation as Lanni himself made certain band members stand up so they could get some applause also.
Even though the audience was mostly made up of elderly people, there were a fair amount of families with toddlers, children, teens and young adults who were all there to listen to some music for free. "It was wonderful, I always come to see the emeritus band," said Rita
Griffiths, a show tunes lover. If you want to see the Emeritus band, they will be playing again at The Broad Stage on June 14 at 3 p.m. and it's free admission