Saturday, October 23, 2010

2010 Fall Concert

Scenes

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Concord Band

James O’Dell, Music Director

Program

Manatee Lyric OvertureRobert Sheldon
PageantVincent Persichetti
Marche des Parachutistes BelgesPierre Leemans; arr. Wiley
Movements from “Pictures at an Exhibition”Modest Moussorgsky; trans. Leidzen
  1. Promenade
  2. The Old Castle
  3. Ballet of the Unhatched Chickens
  4. Hut of the Baba-Yaga
  5. The Great Gate of Kiev

Intermission

The Fairest of the FairJohn Philip Sousa; ed. Fennell
Scenes from “The Louvre”Norman Dello Joio
  1. The Portals
  2. Children's Gallery
  3. The Kings of France
  4. The Nativity Paintings
  5. Finale
Con Sabor EspañolLewis J. Buckley
"The Wrong Note Rag" from Wonderful TownLeonard Bernstein; arr. Ricketts

Read all notes from this program...

Manatee Lyric Overture

Manatee Lyric Overture by Robert Sheldon was commissioned by the Manatee County School Board (FL), and was written in commemoration of the opening of the Manatee County Civic Center in Bradenton, Florida. A colorful and lyric overture for band in a fast-slow-fast setting, the overture was first performed in 1985 by the Manatee County High School Honor Band, with the composer conducting. A trumpet solo opens the slow middle section, with soaring melodies and a festive closing section. (Source: published score and JRO)

Pageant

Pageant, commissioned by the American Bandmasters Association and completed in January, 1953, was Vincent Persichetti's third work for band. It opens in slow tempo with a motive in the horn that is used throughout both sections of the piece. The slow chordal section is succeeded by a lively "parade" section introduced by the snare drum. In the final portion of the work, the two principal subjects are developed simultaneously, leading to a lively climax. The first performance of this work took place on March 7, 1953, at the ABA Convention in Miami. It was performed by the University of Miami Band, with the composer conducting. Pageant was followed by numerous other original works that championed the standard literature for contemporary concert band. (Source: Vincent Persichetti and JRO)

Marche des Parachutistes Belges

Based on the original title, the listener expects Marche des Parachutistes Belges to be a march with a European flavor. The thin scoring and folk song idiom of the first strain soon confirm the European origin. At the Trio, the same tune reappears as a counter-melody to a smooth-flowing melody. Pierre Leemans wrote the march in 1945 after a dinner with a group of Belgian paratroopers. As he was driven home later that night, the march melody came to mind and Leemans finished the other parts after reaching home. As Leemans explained, “Like all successful music, this tune flowed from my pen as water out of a fountain.” (Source: Band Music Notes, Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire)

Pictures at an Exhibition

Written as a tribute to his close friend, the architect Victor Hartmann, Modest Moussorgsky’s suite for piano describes ten of the drawings which most impressed him from the four hundred displayed in a memorial exhibition. Notable band arranger and composer Erik Leidzen (1894-1962) was a major contributor to the early band repertoire, and for over 23 years (1933-1956) he served as the principal arranger for the Goldman Band of New York City. His output was astounding and included a wide variety of arrangements, transcriptions and original compositions for band. This transcription of Pictures at an Exhibition was ordered by Edwin Franko Goldman in 1935, and resulted in ten movements that closely model Ravel’s arrangement for orchestra. (Source: Band Music Notes, Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire and JRO)

The Fairest of the Fair

One of John Philip Sousa’s favorite sayings was “A horse, a dog, a gun, a girl, and music on the side, that is my idea of heaven.” When all of his march titles are examined, Sousa’s appreciation of the fairer sex is obvious. In this instance the subject was a pretty girl who worked at the annual Boston Food Fair. Even though the “march king” never met the young lady, her memory inspired the title when he was preparing a new march for the Food Fair in 1908. The Fairest of the Fair is generally regarded as one of his most melodic and best-written marches. (Source: March Music Notes, Norman Smith)

Scenes from the Louvre

Norman Dello Joio was no stranger to New England and Boston, serving as Dean of the School for the Arts at Boston University from 1972 to 1979. Scenes from the Louvre (originally written for orchestra to accompany an NBC television special focusing on the Paris musem, depicting the development of the Louvre’s construction during the Renaissance), won Dello Joio an Emmy in 1965. The concert band version was commissioned by the Baldwin-Wallace Symphonic band and was premiered in 1966, with the composer conducting. The suite of five movements authentically captures the Renaissance music style and character, often showing the composer’s technique of variation with a clear formal structure. Dello Joio was a major contributor to original contemporary band works, with Scenes and other works for band widely acknowledged as a cornerstone in the band literature. (Source: JRO)

Con Sabor Español

Lewis J. Buckley served as conductor and music director of the United States Coast Guard Band (New London, CT) for 29 years, and now serves as Music Director of the Metropolitan Wind Symphony. When auditions were held to choose Captain Buckley's successor as Conductor of the Coast Guard Band, part of the conducting audition was a sightreading session. As most of the candidates were members of the Coast Guard Band, it was virtually impossible to find anything in the Band library that was unknown to all of them; so Captain Buckley wrote a short piece for the audition, then titled “Conducting Exercise.” Into this piece, Captain Buckley put many of the knotty little conducting problems he had dealt with over the years, including mixed meter, tempo changes, instrumental cadenzas, and fermatas in difficult places. Though written as an exercise, this piece was popular with the band members so Captain Buckley expanded it into a concert work. Thus was born Con Sabor Español (With a Spanish Flavor). It has since been performed widely, to the delight of audiences and players alike. (Source: Lewis J. Buckley)

The Wrong Note Rag

Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town opened at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City on February 23, 1953, swiftly winning a Tony award for Best Musical. The whimsical and quirky "The Wrong Note Rag" superbly captures the lighter side of this award-winning musical gem. (Source: JRO)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Musical Inventions Necessitated by Being a Percussionist

Plato is reported to have said “Necessity is the mother of invention” about 2,400 years ago. As far as we know, he did not have the advantage of being a percussionist. Drummers invent things all of the time simply because playing their instruments or moving quickly from one instrument to another demands it. Sometimes these inventions are commercially-available products; more often than not, one must build a device based on one’s own idea, or on a concept borrowed from a fellow percussionist.

castanet base
Percussionist Dan Diamond, who has been with the Concord Band since 1970, learned while in high school that percussionists are required to be inventive. The first stand he ever saw that allowed a player to quickly pick up and put down a pair of crash cymbals was made by Warren Myers, then principal percussionist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (formerly with the Boston Pops) and director of Dan’s high school band. Dan still uses a pair of castanets mounted for him by Myers on a plastic base more than 50 years ago.

wind machine
The first device that Dan was called upon to construct was in his earliest days as a member of both the Band and the Concord Orchestra, which he joined at the same time: a “wind machine”. It was called for by Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, being performed by the Orchestra. Amazingly, it was needed by the Band in the very next season for Robert Russell Bennett’s Down to the Sea in Ships. A percussion wind machine produces not wind but the sound of wind. The Internet not yet having been invented, there was no way to determine easily how existing wind machines had been constructed, so Dan contacted Everett Beale, a neighbor and one of Boston’s leading free-lance professional percussionists, who described to Dan on the phone how the Boston Symphony’s wind machine was constructed.

When Neil Tischler, a consulting mechanical engineer, joined the Band percussion section in 1972, he and Dan discussed the need for a crash cymbal stand. Neil designed and built the stand that the Band still uses (photo, right). In the opinions of many percussionists, Neil’s design is more functional than the commercial products that finally became available 20 or so years ago. The principal drawback of the latter is that while several different players, located yards apart on the stage, may have to play the crash cymbals in the same piece of music, these stands do not have wheels. When the Band found it useful to acquire a commercial stand a few years ago so that one could remain at Fruitlands during the summer and one be kept at 51 Walden for rehearsals, Buck Grace, a Band percussionist since 1995, built a rolling base for the commercial stand.

While still on the subject of cymbals, but this time those referred to as “suspended,” we have two more Concord Band inventions. Neil Tischler, who plays drum set in the Band whenever it is called for, realized many years ago that it would be convenient to be able to stack two cymbals several inches apart on one stand (as long as the upper cymbal is much smaller in diameter than the lower, always the case when it is a “splash” cymbal). Being an accomplished machinist, about 20 years ago Neil fabricated an extension to the upper arm of a suspended cymbal stand by threading both ends of a steel rod: one end internally and one externally: The cymbal post extension was born.

Dan Diamond prefers to hang a suspended cymbal from a “crook” rather than to put it on the post of a suspended cymbal stand. This requires that a leather cymbal strap—similar to the kind used for crash cymbals—be attached to the cymbal. The problem with this is that it takes a few minutes to untie and retie the special knot that holds a cymbal strap to a cymbal, meaning that it becomes inconvenient to quickly switch a suspended cymbal from “crook” use to “stand post” use. So Diamond invented a quick-change strap that goes on and comes off in seconds.

Dan Diamond is the senior member of the Concord Band, having joined the ensemble in January, 1970. He is a percussionist who began his lifelong love affair with the snare drum 63 years ago. His is also the founder/ editor of our newsletter, Notes from the Concord Band.

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