Friday, February 6, 2015

Winter Concert: Portraits

The Concord Band’s 56th Season Continues on Saturday, March 7th

by George Peter Alexander Healy
Join the Concord Band as we celebrate our 56th year of music making, continuing a season-long exploration of some of the great works for symphonic concert band. Our Winter Concert, Portraits, will be presented at the Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden Street in Concord, on Saturday, March 7, 2015, at 8:00 PM.

The concert features music written between 1943 and 1997 by eminent American composers, each presenting a unique and specific programmatic “portrait”. The concert presents a wide variety of musical styles and genres, and includes some of the very few pieces written for concert band and narrator.

Dichotomy...Impressions of Kerouac by UMass/Lowell Director of University Bands Daniel P. Lutz was inspired by the writings and life of the poet and Lowell native, Jack Kerouac. Commissioned by the Concord Band in 1997 with support from the Lowell Cultural Council, Lutz composed the work to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the writing of Kerouac’s novel On The Road, as well as the 75th anniversary of Kerouac's birth. Eclectic and, at times, other- worldly, the composition is based on the familiar round “Frère Jacques” and is masterfully crafted in four contrasting sections. Lutz includes a nod to the “Beat Generation” with the inclusion of an off-stage jazz tenor saxophone solo accompanied by bongos.

Of Sailors and Whales by W. Francis McBeth is based on Herman Melville’s mid-19th century novel, Moby Dick. The five scenes (movements) are Ishmael, Queequeg, Father Mapple, Ahab, and The White Whale. This work, both intense and lyrical (nearly the entire Band becomes a chorus in the third movement) is a Concord Band and audience favorite. It offers an evocative musical portrait of the selected scenes in the celebrated novel.

Morton Gould composed many works for symphonic band, but his Symphony No. 4 (West Point) is one of the earliest symphonies for concert band by an American composer. The work was written for, and performed at, the United States Military Academy’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1952. The second movement, Marches, which the Concord Band presents in this concert, is cleverly assembled and combines martially flavored thematic material punctuated with presto rhythmic passages and a skillfully crafted fugue.

A Movement for Rosa by Mark Camphouse honors civil rights heroine Rosa Parks. A single-movement work, it has three sections—the first evoking Rosa’s early years, the second portraying the years of racial strife in Montgomery, AL, and the third representing Rosa’s quiet strength. This powerful and moving composition closes with the hymn "We Shall Overcome," presented in its entirety.

During WWII, well-known and respected conductor Andre Kostelanetz embarked on a series of concert programs promoting American music. Among the American composers commissioned to express the “magnificent spirit of our country” were William Schuman, Ferde Grofé, and Aaron Copland. A Lincoln Portrait is a moving musical portrait by Copland of Abraham Lincoln, and uses words taken from various Lincoln speeches. Originally scored for orchestra in 1943, and transcribed in 1951 for concert band by Walter Beeler, the work is one of the earliest written for large ensemble and narrator. (JRO)

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