By TREVOR DURHAM / Managing Editor
There’s a somewhat devotional feeling to the annual PRISM event, a spring festival celebrating the utmost of Florida State’s musicians- each performance individually adds to an overwhelming event – the height of Tallahassee’s musical capabilities. Led primarily by the Marching Chiefs and their subsections, PRISM 2017 was an outrageous, grand musical concert that may well remain unrivaled and unconquered in the year to come.
It’s difficult where to begin in discussing each section of the thirty-four number concert. The entire afternoon moved like a well planned mixtape, starting with a strong explosion of Florida State University’s Wind Orchestra (a wonderful rendition of Jenkins’ Cuernavaca), fluctuating energy high and low, moving between foreign classics to modern contemporary pop staples. The energy never felt jagged, transitions were flawless, and the entire Ruby Diamond Concert Hall was turned into a stage for the many brass, string, and percussion artists.
What groups can one highlight with twenty seven exquisite bands taking the stage? Each of the Chiefs sections played with a group dynamic that was unparalleled, the various FSU choir’s were impeccable, and the student groups were divinely creative. Certainly a stand out was the Ricardo Esquilin Quintet, a jazz ensemble whose furious duels between brass, sax, and piano were a fury that you’d expect in a New Orleans dive. Amore Winds’ tribute to Carrie Fisher with their brief Princess Leia’s Theme was emotional; the pounding and inventive Mambo Furioso by the Florida State University Concert Band (turning every players music stand into a percussion instrument? Brilliance!); Chiefs: Flutes playing chirping birds in the Jackson Fives’ Rockin Robin, the Chiefs: HornZ moving arrangement of Adele’s Hello, down to the tear jerking Radiohead written Creep played by Chiefs: TONES.
There were soloists who put on a show just as grand, if not larger, than the ensembles. The Lonely Boyz featured a Rusty Koenig, playing four instruments, simultaneously- two with his feet, two with his hands, as a chair was removed from under him. Christopher Brown’s hilarious solo of Spain, from Bass Lines, was a delight in its eccentricity. Special mention to the brass player in the Ricardo Esquilin Quintet, Mitchell Eldrige’s jawdropping solo percussion performance of Apocalypse Etude, and the conductor of the FSU Clarinet Choir. The conductor felt the music in his soul, dancing and swinging to the Twisty Turny Thing he was creating, and his enthusiasm brought the music to a deafening soul.
PRISM culminated, as usual, in a tsunami of sound as the Marching Chiefs funnel out over the audience. Above, around, beside, behind, and covering the floor, the Chiefs began a rising performance of El Toro Caliente, moved into an emotional Bohemian Rhapsody, and concluded the show by linking arms with every performer and singing a chilling Hymn to the Garnet and Gold. An absolutely soul-stopping moment, with chills that embody the spirit of the university we came out to celebrate. Hail to the Seminoles, baby.