Friday, October 30, 2015

Review: "Mystical Moments"

2015 Fall Concert Poster
Review by Patti Lake

It is a wonderful experience to be treated to an evening of music where one is merely a listener and not a performer. The Concord Band Fall Concert, “Mystical Moments,” did not disappoint. After a little bit of a slow start, the Concord Band picked up momentum as the evening progressed and did not fail to impress with their renditions and execution of a very challenging program.

The band opened with Prelude and Dance of the Mystic Flames arranged by W. Rhoades from original material by Alexander Scriabin. The good dynamic contrasts created levels of excitement throughout the piece and a few minor intonation issues—perhaps due to the chilly concert hall—were quickly corrected as the instruments warmed. As the pitch came into focus and the rhythms tightened, the band appeared to collectively relax and focus on the wonderful sound they are so capable of creating.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Some of the Percussionists’ Less-Often-Called-For Instruments

Almost every instrumental section of the modern western concert band includes multiple instruments: flutes and piccolos; Bb, Eb, alto and bass clarinets; alto, tenor and baritone saxophones; trumpets and cornets; tenor and bass trombones, etc. But no section of the band includes anything close to the number of distinct instruments as does the percussion section.

Many concert attendees are familiar with the most frequently-played percussion instruments: timpani (set of four or five), bass drum, pair of crash cymbals and suspended cymbal, tam-tam (gong) snare drums of various depths, various kinds and sizes of tom toms, triangle, tambourine, maracas, wood block, sleigh bells and the principal members of the “mallets” family: the xylophone, glockenspiel (bells), vibraphone and chimes.

What we want to do in this article is to make you more familiar with a few of the more important among the less-often called-for percussion “accessory” instruments. (It’s not clear why these are referred to as “accessory”, but to call them “minor” might lead to confusion.) We include here only instruments that have been fairly often called for in music played by the Concord Band. To hear how these instruments sound, visit the Internet.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fall Concert 2015

Mystical Moments

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Concord Band

James O’Dell, Music Director
Steven Barbas, Assistant Conductor

Program

James O’Dell conducting
Prelude and Dance of the Mystic FlamesAlexander Scriabin; arr. W. Rhoads
The Sorcerer’s ApprenticePaul Dukas; trans. M. Hindsley
“Chernomor's March” from Ruslan and LyudmilaMikhail Glinka; arr. J. Vabulas
Incantation and DanceJohn Barnes Chance

Intermission

Nobles of the Mystic ShrineJohn Philip Sousa; ed. F. Fennell
Old ChurchesMichael Colgrass
Carmina BuranaCarl Orff; arr. J. Krance
  1. Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi (O Fortune)
  2. Fortune plango vulnera (I bemoan the wounds of Fortune)
  3. Ecce gratum (Behold, the pleasant spring)
  4. Tanz—Uf dem anger (Dance—On the lawn)
  5. Were diu werlt alle min (Were all the world mine)
  6. In taberna quando sumus (When we are in the tavern)
  7. In trutina (In the balance)
  8. Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi (O Fortune)
Read all notes for this program...

Prelude and Dance of the Mystic Flames

William E. Rhoads’ setting for band entitled Prelude and Dance of the Mystic Flames was suggested by the Prelude in C, Op 13, No 1, for piano of Alexander Scriabin. Paying a nod to Scriabin’s interest in mysticism, the arrangement captures the lush and complex harmonic sonorities and dissonant musical system of the original Scriabin piano Prelude, opening with a slow and majestic andante, and concluding with a brisk and furious allegro. (Source: JRO)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is set to a musical form known as a scherzo (joke) by Paul Dukas. The work is widely recognized thanks to the Disney animated film classic, Fantasia, in which Mickey Mouse plays the title role. A highly programmatic and challenging work arranged for band by Mark Hindsley, the arrangement places much of the difficult orchestral violin and viola writing in the band’s flute, oboe and clarinet parts. The work captures the magic of the sorcerer’s apprentice casting his master’s magical spell on the broomstick to bring water from the well, leading to a tidal flooding and furious conclusion. (Source: JRO)

Chernomor’s March

"Chernomor’s March" comes from the Russian composer Mikhail Glinka’s setting of the 1842 opera, Ruslan and Lyudmila, based upon the famous mock epic poem of the same name by Alexandr Pushkin, in which Chernomor is an old dwarf with a long white beard who is also an evil sorcerer. Arranged for symphonic wind ensemble by Concord Band clarinetist Jerry Vabulas, the march portrays an individual (Chernomor) and his profound sense of self-importance. Beginning with a pompous opening motive that repeats many times, each restatement says the same thing over and over, just a little louder each time. (Source: JRO)

Incantation and Dance

The two sections of John Barnes Chance’s Incantation and Dance contrast substantially in both length and nature. The Incantation is a short, mournful legato melody. It is full of mystery and expectation, wandering, instability, and without tonality. Beginning on a misterioso flute note, instruments are gradually added, but the general dynamic level remains soft, hushed, and waiting, until the feroce and fortissimo of the accented repeated triplets, casting the final incantation. The Dance also begins quietly, but percussion instruments quickly enter, one by one, building a rhythmic pattern of incredible complexity and drive. The entrance of the brass and winds creates an increase in the rhythmic tension, as the dance grows wilder and more frenzied. After a short variation of material from the Incantation, the beginning of the Dance section is once again represented by the percussion. The piece gathers force as the entire ensemble draws together for a dramatic and exciting conclusion. (Source: Music Program Notes)

Nobles of the Mystic Shrine

Among John Philip Sousa’s many marches, the instrumentation in Nobles of the Mystic Shrine is unique in that it includes harp, triangle, and tambourine. The inclusion of these non-traditional marching band instruments provides a setting, texture, and style derived from the clanking and chiming Turkish music associated with the Shriners, previously known as the “Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.” Also unique is the musical form—an introduction and first strain set in Bb minor, unusual for the majority of Sousa’s marches. Sousa was a Shriner and member of the Almas Temple in Washington, D. C., being named the first honorary director of the Temple Shrine Band in 1922. (Source: JRO)

Old Churches

In Old Churches, Michael Colgrass employs Gregorian-chant type techniques to create a slightly mysterious monastery scene filled with the prayers and chanting of monks in an old church. Gregorian chant is a form of church music which has been in existence since the 9th century. The chant unfolds through call and response patterns. One monk intones a musical idea, then the rest of the monks respond by singing back. This musical conversation continues throughout the piece, with the exception of a few brief interruptions. Perhaps they are the quiet comments church visitors make to one another. (Source: published score)

Carmina Burana

German-born composer Carl Orff is widely known not only for his musical output, but also for his internationally recognized and revolutionary music education method that continues to be employed by music educators around the globe. Carmina Burana sets to music 13th-century poems found in the Benedictine monastery of Beuron. In the original score of Carmina Burana, one of the most exciting works of the 20th century, the subtitle reads “Profane songs for singers and vocal chorus with instruments and magical pictures.” John Krance’s arrangement for band fully incorporates the vocal parts into the concert band instrumentation and authentically preserves the emotional and musical intent of the original orchestral/vocal setting. Originally consisting of 25 sections, this arrangement includes thirteen, about which Krance writes, “The work begins and ends depicting the crushing anguish of the victims of Fortune’s ruthless wheel ("O Fortuna," "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi"); the remaining sections are devoted to the joys of spring and nature, the pleasures of the tavern and the gaming table, the delights of love, the irony of fate.” (Source: JRO and published score)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Concord Band Begins 57th Season with "Mystical Moments"

Join the Concord Band as we celebrate our 57th season, presenting both old gems and new works for symphonic concert band. We embark on our 2015-2016 season voyage with a program that presents a wide range of original compositions and arrangements for band, by composers born between 1865 and 1932. The program includes original works from the symphonic wind ensemble repertoire and arrangements of orchestral masterpieces.

Our Fall Concert, Mystical Moments, will be presented at 51 Walden, Concord’s Performing Arts Center, on Saturday, October 24, 2015, at 8:00 PM. The concert features music with programmatic undertones penned by American and international composers, and traverses a series of mysterious and magical musical episodes.

Old Churches is one of many original works by American-born composer Michael Colgrass, and is based on early church music known as Gregorian Chant. This mysterious monastic scene employs moments of aleatoric chance techniques (pitches played without rhythm at each player’s discretion) and unison call and response chant melodies.

Prelude and Dance of the Mystic Flames is a setting for band by William E. Rhoads suggested by the piano preludes of Alexander Scriabin. Paying a nod to Scriabin’s interest in mysticism, the arrangement for band captures the lush and complex harmonic sonorities and dissonant musical system of the original Scriabin piano preludes, opening with a slow and majestic Andante, and concluding with a brisk and furious Allegro.

German-born composer Carl Orff is widely known not only for his musical output, but also for his internationally-recognized and revolutionary music education method that continues to be employed by music educators around the globe. In the original score of Carmina Burana, one of the most exciting works of the 20th century, the subtitle reads “Profane songs for singers and vocal chorus with instruments and magical pictures”. John Krance’s arrangement for band fully incorporates the vocal parts into the concert band instrumentation and authentically preserves the emotional and musical intent of the original orchestral/ vocal setting. Originally consisting of twenty- five sections, this arrangement includes thirteen, about which Krance writes, “The work begins and ends depicting the crushing anguish of the victims of Fortune’s ruthless wheel (O Fortuna, Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi); the remaining sections are devoted to the joys of spring and nature, the pleasures of the tavern and the gaming table, the delights of love, the irony of fate”.

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