Heavy Ensemble Plans Third Concert at Pacific

Heavy Ensemble Plans Third Concert at Pacific

A new ensemble has been making its presence felt at Pacific’s Conservatory of Music. Among the many different styles of both classical and contemporary music being performed at University of the Pacific, there now exist a home for punk and metal music to be performed in the conservatory. That home exists in the form of the Pacific Heavy Ensemble, founded by a group of students within the Conservatory and spearheaded by Peter Altamura ‘21, who explains that, “Pacific Heavy Ensemble is the first conservatory metal group in America to have a large orchestra, choir and metal band on the same stage”. The group consists of two guitarists, Altamura on bass, an orchestra and a choir, conducted by graduate assistant Nico Peruzzi ‘20. “Almost no music already exists for this type of ensemble so much of what we are playing was orchestrated from scratch by ear,” explains Peruzzi,  “There are a few songs that we were able to get orchestra parts, but they still required significant adaptation.”

The ensemble is currently planning its final concert of the year, a concert to be held in Faye Spanos Concert Hall on April 28th at 7pm. The concert hopes to draw in a crowd from all parts of the Stockton community, as it is also serving as a fundraiser for local high school bands in the community, with 30% of all tickets sold to high school students being donated to their respective band programs.

The concert will also feature Bay Area ska-punk band Day Labor, adding an entirely new dynamic to the evening. “Ska is another genre that is not often recognized as a serious music pursuit,” says Peruzzi, “I think adding them to this performance speaks to the idea that all musical genres have the potential to be a serious artistic pursuit, which I feel is the driving principle behind this ensemble.”

The formation of Pacific Heavy Ensemble comes at a time of change within the Conservatory, as the more classically trained traditions of the Conservatory are beginning to give way to more contemporary music. “One of our primary goals when creating this ensemble was to dispel the notion that all metal music is just “Hail Satan”, and show how musically diverse the genre is,” explains guitarist and co-founder Brandon Lindner ‘18, “We hope this concert inspires people to explore new music, of all kinds, in places they wouldn’t normally look.“

“I believe the formation and execution from PacHeavy has been a huge change not only at Pacific Conservatory culture, but will hopefully spark something else from other conservatories,” says an optimistic Altamura, “I would like to see this across many more conservatories in America, and all over the world for that matter.”

The ensemble has been working with heavy music from various subgenres and reworking it for not only a typical band setting but for the orchestra and choir that make up the Pacific Heavy Ensemble, either entirely independently or with help from the artists of the songs themselves. “Besides just trying to get all of the music written out in time, no one really knows how to approach the issue of balance in this type of ensemble,” says Peruzzi, “We were actually able to get in contact with the Keyboardist for Epica, who provided us with some sheet music for their song Consign to Oblivion which we will be performing.”

The ensemble, both with its presence on campus and especially with their upcoming concert, hopes to dispel stereotypes connected with heavy music and bring a more contemporary style of music performance to Pacific. “It’s wonderful being in an environment that is so open to new and different styles of music, and we hope to see similar projects spring up and flourish at this conservatory,” says Lindner.

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