Monday, September 17, 2018

Concord Band Celebrates 60th Season

Photo courtesy Daisy Design

Commissions and special guest soloists will highlight the anniversary season

By Peter Norton, | Sep 16, 2018

The Concord Band, a community concert band based in Concord, Mass., is commemorating its 60th anniversary season from September 2018-July 2019. The Band was originally formed in 1959 as a marching band to participate in patriotic celebrations in the Town of Concord, Mass., but has been performing as a symphonic wind ensemble since 1970. The band typically plays about 15 concerts a year, mostly at the historic Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden in Concord and outdoor concerts at its summer home in Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Massachusetts.

In honor of this special anniversary season, the band has commissioned a new fanfare by Emmy-award-winning composer Roger Cichy and a new major work by Andrew Boysen, Jr. both to be premiered at the Band's Winter Concert on March 2, 2019. These commissions will add to the Band's sponsorship of more than 80 new works and arrangements for symphonic concert band. Music Director James O'Dell has also programmed many musical pieces with special relevance to the Concord Band's long history for other concerts this season (especially the Fall Concert on October 20, 2018). Honorary Concord Band member and jazz vocalist Amanda Carr and American Idol alumnus John Stevens will headline the Spring Pops nightclub-style concerts on April 12–13. The Band is also working with the town of Concord to get involved with Patriots' Day celebrations for a special concert on April 15, 2019.

The Concord Band looks forward to celebrating its long history throughout the coming year. More details about the Concord Band's 60th anniversary season concerts will be posted on its website as they are available.

The band is an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that gladly accepts any donations to help fund the costs of the 60th anniversary season at The Concord Band is supported by the Cultural Councils in Concord, Bolton, and Harvard.

Be sure to save the date for our "Celebrating Our Heritage" Fall Concert on October 20, 8pm at 51 Walden. The concert is open to the public and funded by donations.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Fall Concert: Celebrating our Heritage

Fall 2018 Concert Poster
The Concord Band is looking forward to the first concert of its 60th Anniversary Season on October 20, 2018, featuring music commissioned and composed for The Concord Band as well as masterworks in the concert band repertoire.  The Band will be led by Music Director James O'Dell and Assistant Conductor Steven Barbas.  Admission is free, donations are gratefully received.  Concert to be held at The Performing Arts Center, 51 Walden Street in Concord, Mass.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Save the Dates

2018–2019 60th Anniversary Season Schedule Card
As the Concord Band celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2019, we're preparing a very special season you won't want to miss! Look for our colorful season schedule card included with the Fall 2018 issue of our newsletter, Notes from the Concord Band. If you would like to receive a season card for your bulletin board or 'fridge, sign up for our free newsletter by following this link.

Friday, July 27, 2018

"Anniversaries" Concert Videos

Saturday, March 3, 2018
The Concord Band
James O’Dell Music Director
Steven Barbas Assistant Conductor

Overture to CandideLeonard Bernstein;
arr. Beeler
Funeral March of a MarionetteCharles Gounod;
arr. Squires
Toccata MarzialeRalph Vaugh Williams
A Trumpeter's LullabyLeroy Anderson;
arr. Lang
Richard Given, trumpet
Three Dance Episodes from
On The Town
Leonard Bernstein;
arr. Stith

"Mars" from The PlanetsGustav Holst
"A Simple Song" from MassLeonard Berstein;
arr. Sweeney

Petite Symphonie  I. Adagio, AllegroCharles Gounod
Irish Tune from County DerryPercy Grainger
Shepherd's Hey: English Morris DancePercy Grainger

One of the Band's long-term projects is to create a comprehensive video archive of concert band literature. The archive documents our performances, helps us to improve musically, and provides a valuable online resource for band programming. You can explore performance videos hosted on our YouTube channel, ConcordBandMA.

The Performance Video Database concept has been created and led by percussionist and executive producer Dan Diamond, and video director Barry Mirrer, with generous technical assistance and resources provided by Concord-Carlisle TV. See feature articles: Performance Video DatabaseVideo Production.

The complete Concord Band Performance Video Database is accessible through a tab at the top of each blog page. You can play a video or view program notes by selecting links in the excerpt shown here.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summer Series at Fruitlands Museum

Sunset view at Fruitlands Museum Summer Concert Series
Gather on the lawn for Fruitlands Museum Summer Concert Series and listen to beautiful music performed on Fruitlands’ outdoor stage!

For six Thursdays, from June 21 through July 26, Fruitlands Museum welcomes The Concord Band, a group of 65 musicians from 40 area towns, as their forthcoming 60th Anniversary Season celebration begins this fall. The Concord Band will treat concert-goers to a fun roster of timeless music, including pieces commemorating historic events, show tunes, patriotic favorites and more.

Music begins at 7:15 pm. Bring your blanket, lawn chairs and picnic basket, or purchase food from vendors.

Special Evenings:
  • July 12th. Stop by our Picnic Pop-Up Tent, sponsored by Picnic Perfect, and learn some fun picnicking tips and tricks to amp up your picnicking style.
  • July 19th. Take part in our Picnic Contest. Katie Schur of Picnic Perfect will be our expert contest judge and prize sponsor.
  • All evenings between 5 and 7 pm, stop by the Art Gallery to see some examples of picnicking through the ages in our current exhibition, Leisure Pursuits: The Fashion and Culture of Recreation.
  • Member: $15 per vehicle, $5 for cycles.
  • Non-member: $20 per vehicle, $10 for cycles.
Admission includes entry to the Art Gallery between 5 and 7 pm.

For more information: Trustees of the Reservations

Monday, June 4, 2018

Picnic in the Park

Join us for The Town of Concord's annual Fourth of July Picnic in the Park.

The day kicks off with the Minuteman Classic Road Race. The Youth Fun Run starts at 8:30 a.m., followed by the 5-Mile Road Race at 9 a.m. [Click here] for more information about the race.

The Children's Bicycle and Tricycle Parade starts the day's assembles at 11:15 a.m. After the parade, there will be music, games and entertainment until 4:30 p.m. Here's a look at what's in store.

Schedule of Events

10:00 a.m.‒12:00 p.m.
RE/MAX Balloon Rides (weather permitting)
11:45 a.m.1:00 p.m.
David Polansky
12:301:30 p.m.
Field Games
1‒3 p.m.
Lizzie the Clown
1‒4 p.m.
Henna Tattoos
1‒4 p.m.
Roaming Railroad Rides
1:30‒3:00 p.m.
Southern Rail Band
2‒3 p.m.
Hampstead Players: Treasure Island--Hunt Gym
3:15‒4:30 p.m.
The 60-piece Concord Band play a variety of patriotic tunes to end Picnic-in-the-Park on a high note!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Summer Series Showcases Musical Variety

Concord Band at Fruitlands Museum
Concord Band at Fruitlands Museum's outdoor amphitheater.
The Concord Band is preparing for its 33rd season at Fruitlands Museum, in Harvard, Mass. The summer concert series begins on Thursday June 21conducted by Jim O’Dell, who next fall, along with the Concord Band's 60th Anniversary Season celebrationwill be celebrating his own 10th season as Music Director.

The first program, titled Main Street USA, will feature some Dixieland, some blues, some marches, and selections from Broadway.  The program includes a reprise by Concord Band trumpeter Rich Givens of Leroy Anderson’s Trumpeters Lullaby. The following week, June 28th, it’s Strike Up the Bands with popular music from Chicago, Santana, the Beatles, ABBA, and big bands of the swing era.

The Independence Day program of patriotic American music will be performed at the Picnic in the Park concert in Concord on July 4 and repeated at Fruitlands the following evening on Thursday July 5. The program includes the march, America Forever written by Malinda Zenor, which is a delightful medley of Battle Cry of Freedom and America the Beautiful.

The program on July 12, themed For Kids of All Ages, includes catchy children’s tunes and familiar movie music. The Band will be lead by dynamic Assistant Conductor Steve Barbas, who has chosen A Rhapsody of Reruns, an amusing melange of  favorite TV show themes from the 1950s and 1960s, as well as World of Warcraft, a piece with symphonic themes from the hit video game.

July 19 will have a program honoring American Masters Leonard Bernstein, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Frank Sinatra, and George Gershwin. Bernstein, who was born in Lawrence and educated at Harvard, became the leading figure in 20th-century American classical music. The Concord Band continues our tribute to his 100th birthday by performing A Simple Song from Mass and Selections from West Side Story.  The final concert on July 26 is a Summer Retrospective, comprising encores of audience favorites across the entire concert series.

Fruitlands concerts are Thursdays starting at 7:15 pm. The grounds open at 5:00 pm and the Art Gallery is open to concert goers.  Admission is $20 per carload, or $15 for members of Trustees of the Reservations; $10 for cyclists and motorcycles, or $5 for members.

The Picnic in the Park concert at Emerson Field in Concord begins at 3:15 pm.  Come early for lots of fun family activities!  Admission is free.  In the event of rain, the concert will be played in the Performance Arts Center at 51 Walden Street.

Fruitlands concerts may be canceled if weather is threatening; the Band’s phone line (978-897-9969) will have cancellation information. More information about the Concord Band can be found on Facebook or at

The Concord Band’s Fruitlands summer series is supported in part by the Bolton and Harvard Cultural Councils. The Concord Cultural Council also supports the Band’s Winter concert at 51 Walden.

Boston Festival of Bands

Although the Concord Band is not scheduled to perform this year, we're passing along this announcement from our friends and colleagues at Metropolitan Wind Symphony, who host the Boston Festival of Bands annually.

Spend June's second Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Boston shopping, eating, enjoying the city, and listening to some of New England's finest wind ensembles! MetWinds hosts its 30th annual Boston Festival of Bands. Enjoy the many talented bands performing throughout the day in the heart of Faneuil Hall near Boston Harbor.

Please note that you may enter the hall at any time throughout the day. There will be a 20 minute break between each performance to reset the stage and allow time for the next band to warm up in the hall.

For more information: Metropolitan Wind Symphony

Friday, March 30, 2018

Spring Pops with Amanda Carr

Punxsutawney Phil
Punxsutawney Phil was right—we’ve had another six weeks of winter!

James O'Dell
But, never fear, April is almost here and that means the Concord Band Spring Pops concerts. Friday April 6 and Saturday April 7 at 8:00 pm, 51 Walden in Concord is the place to welcome Spring.

Music Director James O’Dell will reprise the best numbers from the Band’s March concert. Continuing our tribute to the anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, the Band will perform Overture to Candide and the sailor's dance from On the Town.

Amanda Carr
Jazz vocalist Amanda Carr is back to warm your hearts along with the seasonable weather. Amanda adds a jazz and Latin feel to the Pops concerts, including her fabulous renditions of Route 66, One Note Samba, and Blue Moon.
Richard Given

Trumpet soloist Richard Given will thrill the audience with A Trumpeter's Lullaby.

Friday evening's concert is presented by The Rotary Club of Concord, Pops sponsor for more than 40 years. Tickets are available via email at

Saturday night's concert is hosted by The Concord Band, and tickets are available online at

For more information, call the Band’s announcement line at 978-897-9969, or view our website at

Friday, March 23, 2018

Spotlight: Guest Artist Amanda Carr

Guest Artist Amanda Carr
Amanda Carr recently joined public radio station WICN, Jazz+ for New England, as Executive Director, having been involved with the station for over 20 years following her first-ever interview as a jazz artist. In addition to her music and production background, Amanda brings her sales and marketing knowledge to her role at the station.

Amanda is an international recording and touring artist who has received worldwide critical acclaim of her fresh interpretations of the Great American Songbook. The Wall Street Journal hails her, “...a true jazz singer in a time of wannabes”.

While still performing and tapping into her roots of pop, blues, folk & rock with artists like the legendary James Montgomery and Myanna, Amanda has been a guest vocalist with Keith Lockhart and The Boston Pops, The Artie Shaw Orchestra, Harry James Band and the Glenn Miller Orchestra, among many other guest vocal appearances. A headline artist at EuroJazz Festival, she recorded “Live in San Giorgio” with Trio Martinale in Torino, Italy.

Her Portuguese rendition of ‘Mas Que Nada’ labeled her the Top Three Vocalists of 2009 in the jazz category in Brazil’s ‘Rio Review’. Amanda successfully created and headlined a cross-country tour show of  “A Tribute to Peggy Lee” which sold out thirty dates and still remains a draw for audiences.

Among her corporate and commercial work, she has composed and performed music for two PBS documentaries, one being ‘The Story of Golf’ which received an Emmy Nomination, and also acclaim for her musical contributions to ‘Boston Red Sox: 100 Years of Baseball History’. Her original work with childrenʼs music for the  ‘Lilʼ Iguana’ series is among her favorite composing and recording projects. She is the writer and composer for The Boston Anthem which has been adopted by major Boston sports teams, corporations, organizations and schools.

Her most ambitious project, a big band album entitled “Common Thread”, debuted on the top of multiple Jazz Best Seller charts and in the top 50 on Billboard. Paying homage to her big band musician parents, Amanda founded ‘American Big Band Preservation Society’ in 2009,  a non-profit that preserves the essence of American musical heritage.

She was chosen to represent the USA in a music ambassadorship to Shanghai, China in 2014. Currently, she is Artist Liaison for the esteemed organization, ‘Boston Women in Media and Entertainment’ authoring a popular online interview series. Amanda is an official CBS Radio commentator for Boston’s prestigious annual “Boston Pops July 4th” concert on the Esplanade with WBZ News Radio.

With five jazz vocal recordings, global distribution and airplay, Amanda continues to perform as a solo artist while remaining a popular guest artist. Amanda was presented with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award for 2015 by Rotary International, and she was nominated for 2016 Boston Music Awards Jazz Artist of the Year. Closer to home, Amanda Carr is one of only two artists in history named Honorary Member of the Concord Band.

Source: Used with permission.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday, March 9, 2018

Spring Pops Concert Features Vocalist Amanda Carr

Amanda Carr
featuring jazz vocalist
Amanda Carr

Friday, April 6, 2018 at 8 pm.
Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Concord
For ticket prices and reservations,
Call: 978-394-5158 or 978-505-2783

Saturday, April 7, 2019 at 8pm.
Sponsored by the Concord Band
Tickets: Adults—$25, children (under 12)—$15
Order online
Call: 978-897-9969

Guest Artist Amanda Carr, perennial favorite with Concord Band Pops concert audiences, rejoins the Band at 51 Walden on April 6 and 7 for Spring Pops, 2018. The fabulous Ms. Carr, who is one of only two Honorary Members of the Concord Band, will be featured in a wide variety of musical selections from the American Songbook, including jazz and swing originals, as well as arrangements specially commissioned for Amanda and the Concord Band. Carr’s multi-styled vocal work and fresh interpretations will delight both audience and band members alike! The Concord Band Jazz Trio will join the exciting and fun-filled evening of music for a special tune with Amanda.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Review: Concord Band Winter Concert, "Anniversaries"

by Cal Armistead 

First, full disclosure: despite living in the Concord area for nearly twenty years, I’d never been to a concert of The Concord Band until last Saturday evening. And now, although I’m late to the party, I can with authority chastise myself for missing out all these years. It was my great delight to finally experienced this local cultural treasure first-hand at 51 Walden in Concord on March 3rd.

The inspiration behind the music for the Winter Concert was “1818, 1918, 2018Anniversaries,” and began, stated music director and conductor James O’Dell, with the celebration of the 100th birthday this year of composer Leonard Bernstein. “Then we started thinking, ‘what else can we tie in?’ We came up with [Charles] Gounod’s 200th,” he said. As for the rest? The connection was applied loosely, he admitted, “a little bit, but not too much.” Certainly anniversaries are on the minds of The Concord Band members and enthusiasts as they contemplate their 60th year in 2019.

The concert began with Overture to Candide, its performance dedicated to assistant conductor Steven Barbas, who was unable to lead the piece as planned Saturday night due to a death in his family. The exciting Overture was a treat for theater nerds in the audience (this reporter included), reminding us of the comic operetta based on Voltaire’s work that had its premiere under the direction of Bernstein by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1957.

The next number, Funeral March of a Marionette with its dancing xylophone instantly brought to mind the image of movie director Alfred Hitchcock stepping into his famous big-bellied profile. O’Dell described the tune as “a clever little march, a tongue-in-cheek piece,” which was originally conceived by Charles Gounod as a parody of a music critic he detested.

The grand Toccata Marziale by Ralph Vaughan Williams conjured images of a royal parade, and indeed was composed for the Commemoration of the British Empire Exhibition of 1924.

A particular treat for the evening was the performance of A Trumpeter’s Lullaby, featuring the impressive talent of trumpet soloist (and Concord Band principal trumpeter) Richard Given. The piece was written by Leroy Anderson at the prompt of Roger Voisin, first trumpet of the Boston Pops. In turn, Given himself studied with Voisin at the New England Conservatory, allowing the appreciative audience to experience this direct lineage of talent and inspiration. The number—which was dedicated to the memory of longtime member and trumpet player Ron Smith, who recently passed away—was rewarded with whoops, whistles and cheers.

The Three Dance Episodes from Bernstein’s On the Town conjured the unmistakable excitement and razzle-dazzle of Times Square in 1944. “Dance of the Great Lover,” “Pas de Deux” and “Times Square Ballet” created fun auditory images of three sailors seeking romance and adventure during 24-hour shore leave in wartime New York City.

Following intermission, The Concord Band went interplanetary with the Gustav Holst tone poem “Mars, the Bringer of War,” from his composition The Planets. Although conceived in 1914 to reflect the rising threat of World War I, to this listener it also evoked images of marching Star Wars storm troopers planning intergalactic war. After rising to the musical equivalent of artillery attacks within a cacophony of chaos, the music quieted, seeming to lay destruction bare, for all to look upon, and contemplate.

“A Simple Song” from Bernstein’s Mass was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy for the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center in 1971. This meaningful piece reflected—as noted in the program—Bernstein’s desire to compose an ecumenical service “that would combine elements from various religions and sects of ancient or tribal beliefs.” At the time, he’d attempted to explore what he perceived as a spiritual crisis. Certainly A Simple Song, the introductory movement to his Mass is as pertinent today, nearly five decades later, as it was then.

Gounod’s Petite Symphonie showcased nine woodwind musicians from the Band. A fun, light number that evoked frolicking woodland creatures, it followed—as the program states—“the standard Mozart serenade instrumentation of two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, and two horns, but Gounod also included a single flute part for [celebrated flutist Paul] Taffanel.”

Rolling green hills, homes with thatched roofs, and grazing sheep were brought instantly to mind by Irish Tune from Country Derry, written by Percy Grainger. The pipes were calling (along with beautiful flute melodies) with the familiar strains of “Danny Boy.”

The concert was brought to a close with Grainger’s Shepherd’s Hey, evoking English “Morris Men” dancers wearing jingling bells. This whimsical, joyful, swirling, twirling piece provided a big finish, leaving the audience cheered and satisfied. Including and especially, me.

I am thrilled to have finally “discovered” The Concord Band after all this time (what was I thinking?), and although this was this first concert I attended, it will be far from my last.

Writer Cal Armistead is the author of the young adult novel Being Henry David, and is a member of Custom Blend, an Acton-based a cappella group that has sung together for 16 years. She resides in Acton.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Winter Concert 2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018 

The Concord Band 

James O’Dell, Music Director 
Steven Barbas, Assistant Conductor 
Richard Given, Trumpet Soloist


Steven Barbas, Conducting
Overture to CandideLeonard Bernstein;
arr. Beeler
James O’Dell, Conducting
Funeral March 
of a Marionette
Charles Gounod;
arr. Squires
Toccata MarzialeRalph Vaughan Williams
A Trumpeter’s LullabyLeroy Anderson;
arr. Lang
Richard Given, Trumpet Soloist
Three Dance Episodes from On The TownLeonard Bernstein;
arr. Stith
  1. The Great Lover
  2. Lonely Town: Pas de Deux
  3. Times Square: 1944


“Mars” from The PlanetsGustav Holst
“A Simple Song” from MassLeonard Bernstein;
arr. Sweeney
Petite SymphonieCharles Gounod
  1. Adagio, Allegro
Irish Tune from County DerryPercy Grainger
Shepherd’s Hey: English Morris DancePercy Grainger

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Concord Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Overture to Candide

Candide, the comic operetta based on Voltaire’s work, had an unfortunately short musical life on Broadway in 1956. However its lively Overture to Candide had its premiere by the New York Philharmonic orchestra under the direction of composer Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990) in 1957, and has become a favorite in the concert repertoire of both orchestras and bands. The work is very rhythmic, yet forceful, combining the classical and popular style into a clever and modern composition. (Source: Carl Barnett, Will Rogers High School, Tulsa, Oklahoma)

Funeral March of a Marionette

Funeral March of a Marionette was originally conceived by Charles Gounod (1818–1893) as a tongue-in-cheek parody of a music critic whom he had come to detest. This spirit of good-hearted fun was certainly personified by the man who later became indelibly associated with this theme—Alfred Hitchcock. Interpreted with a sly wink of the eye, this classic novelty is great fun for players and audience alike. (Source: Published Score)

Toccata Marziale

English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958) is most noted for his compositions for orchestra, the theater, and chamber groups, but his works for band, like the Folk Song Suite and Toccata Marziale demonstrate his unrivaled skill in scoring for this medium. Together with the two Holst suites for band, this music forms a set which has become a traditional cornerstone of the concert band literature. Composed for the Commemoration of the British Empire Exhibition of 1924, the Toccata Marziale is a first-rate rate work by any measurement. (Source: Acton Osterling, Jr., University of Maryland)

A Trumpeter’s Lullaby

Roger Voisin, first trumpet of the Boston Pops, was born in 1918. Composer Leroy Anderson (1908–1975) wrote “Roger Voisin asked me why I didn’t write a trumpet solo for him to play with the orchestra that would be different from traditional trumpet solos which are all loud, martial or triumphant. After thinking it over, it occurred to me that I had never heard a lullaby for trumpet so I set out to write one—with a quiet melody based on bugle notes played by the trumpet and with the rest of the orchestra playing a lullaby background.” (Source:

Three Dance Episodes from On the Town

Leonard Bernstein writes, “The story of On the Town is concerned with three sailors on 24-hour leave in New York, and their adventures with the monstrous city which its inhabitants take so for granted.” The first episode is 'Dance of the Great Lover,' in which the romantic sailor Gabey falls asleep on the subway and dreams of sweeping Miss Turnstiles off her feet. In the second episode, “Pas de Deux,” Gabey watches a scene, “both tender and sinister, in which a sensitive high-school girl in Central Park is lured and then cast off by a worldly sailor.” The finale, “Times Square,” is described by Bernstein as “a more panoramic sequence in which all the sailors congregate in Times Square for their night of fun.” (Source: Boosey and Hawkes, Inc.)

Mars: The Bringer of War

The Planets, composed for orchestra in 1915 by Gustav Holst (1874–1934), is a suite of 7 tone poems, each describing symbolically a different planet. The entire suite was first performed for a private audience in 1918 and in the public, without Venus and Neptune, in 1919. "Mars, The Bringer of War" was complete in the composer's mind in the early summer of 1914, when the First World War was but an emerging threat. The work is dominated by the relentless hammering out of a 5/4 rhythm which suggests the relentless destruction of war. The movement was transcribed for band by the composer in 1924. (Source: Boosey and Hawkes, Inc.)

A Simple Song

Leonard Bernstein’s Mass was commissioned to inaugurate the John F. Kennedy Center in 1971 as a national showcase for the performing arts in Washington, DC. Bernstein, although Jewish by tradition, stated he had always been fascinated by Catholic ritual, which he deemed dramatic and even theatrical, and “always wanted to compose a service of one sort or another,” especially an ecumenical one “that would combine elements from various religions and sects of ancient or tribal beliefs, but it never came together in my mind until Jacqueline Onassis asked me to write a piece dedicated to her late husband.” In Mass, Bernstein attempted to universalize the Catholic ritual in order to explore the spiritual crisis of our time. "A Simple Song" is the introductory movement to the Mass. (Source: Austin Symphonic Band)

Petite Symphonie

The premiere of Charles Gounod’s Petite Symphonie for nine winds (1885) was the result of a particular convergence of circumstances. The first contributing factor was Theobald Boehm’s revolutionary improvements to the structural design of woodwind instruments. Boehm re-imagined the mechanism of these instruments so that they could be built with ideal acoustical properties in mind. The second factor was the concurrent resurgence of wind music as championed by flutist Paul Taffanel. He reached out to several belle époque composers for new woodwind works, and Gounod responded with the Petite Symphonie. The work calls for the standard Mozart serenade instrumentation of two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, and two horns, but Gounod also included a single flute part for Taffanel. (Source: Dr. Amanda Cook, Between the Ledger Lines)

Irish Tune from County Derry

Irish Tune from County Derry is based on a tune collected by Miss J. Ross of Limavady, County Derry, Ireland, and published in the Petrie Collection of Ancient Music of Ireland in 1885. This setting by Percy Grainger (1882–1961) was written in 1918 and was dedicated to the memory of Edvard Grieg. The “perfect” melody and the rich sonorities of this arrangement have kept the Irish Tune in a favored position for decades. (Source: Carl Fisher, Inc.)

Shepherd’s Hey

The air on which Percy Grainger's composition is based was collected by Cecil J. Sharpe. In some agricultural districts in England teams of “Morris Men”, decked out with jingling bells and other finery, can still be seen dancing to such traditional tunes as Shepherd’s Hey, which are played on the fiddle or on the “pipe and tabor” (a sort of fife and drum). (Source: Richard Franco Goldman, The Goldman Band)

Saturday, February 24, 2018


The Concord Band is joining music groups around the world in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of American composer Leonard Bernstein. The Band’s Winter Concert on Saturday March 3, 2018 will include three selections by Bernstein: Three Dance Episodes from On the Town, the Overture from Candide, and “A Simple Song” from Mass. In addition, the Concord Band’s Music Director James O’Dell is programming other pieces that involve anniversaries in 2018, including works by Charles Gounod, Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Leroy Anderson.

Leonard Bernstein wrote his first Broadway musical On the Town based on the successful Bernstein-Jerome Robbins’ ballet Fancy Free earlier in 1944. On the Town follows the adventures of three sailors on shore leave in New York City and is focused on a series of dance episodes choreographed by Robbins; the three dances were selected by Bernstein for an orchestral suite. The band transcription is by Paul Lavender.

Leonard Bernstein
composer and conductor
Candide is a comic operetta written by Bernstein in 1956 and is based on Voltaire’s 1759 novella. Although the operetta was not successful at the time, the overture was well received from the start, and it promptly became a very popular curtain-raiser. Bernstein himself conducted the overture with the New York Philharmonic in January 1957. Brilliantly scored, it has a certain type of vitality that is not easy to match.

Bernstein wrote Mass in 1971 on commission from Jacqueline Kennedy for the opening of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. “A Simple Song” is the second movement and has become the best-known and most often recorded song from this 32-movement theatre piece for singers, players, and dancers. Featuring a trumpet solo as well as solo spots for trombone and baritone, this beautifully poignant setting has been transcribed from the original by Michael Sweeney.

French composer Charles Gounod was born in 1818 and the Band will perform his Petite Symphonie (Nonet) and Funeral March of a Marionette. The latter was originally written for solo piano and then orchestrated a few years later by Gounod. It is perhaps best known as the theme music for the television program “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” The Petite Symphonie is for 2 each oboes, clarinets, horns, bassoons, and one flute.

Gustav Holst’s The Planets was premiered in 1918. The Concord Band will play the first movement, “Mars: The Bringer of War.” For another noted composer for British military bands, Percy Grainger, 1918 was also a significant year. Grainger became a U.S. citizen that year after serving throughout World War I as a U.S. Army bandsman, and that year he published two of his enduring settings for band based on British Isles’ folk songs: Irish Tune from County Derry and Shepherds Hey. These separate pieces were published together and so will be performed as a suite.

In 1918, Gustav Holst’s friend Ralph Vaughan Williams became the director of bands for the British Army. In 1924 Vaughan Williams composed an original work for band, Toccata Marziale, in commemoration of the British Empire Exhibition. The piece is considered a masterpiece of both counterpoint and instrumental color, and holds an important place in the wind band repertoire.
Richard Given

A Trumpeter’s Lullaby was written by Leroy Anderson at the request of Roger Voisin, principal trumpet of the Boston Pops, who asked that Anderson write a trumpet solo for him to play with the Pops. Voisin, who was born in 1918, suggested it be different from traditional trumpet solos “which are all loud, martial, or triumphant.” Anderson said it occurred to him that he had never heard a lullaby for trumpet so he wrote a quiet melody based on bugle notes played by the trumpet and with the rest of the orchestra playing a lullaby background. The piece is now famous around the world in orchestra and band versions orchestrated by Anderson himself. At the March 3 concert, the trumpet solo will be played by the Concord Band’s principal trumpet Richard Given, who for four years was a student of “his hero” Roger Voisin.

The Concord Band’s March 3 concert will be held at 8:00 pm at the Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden Street in Concord. The concert is free with donations gratefully accepted. The Concord Band is supported by grants from Concord, Harvard, and Bolton Cultural Councils, agencies of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Concert Commemorates Composer Leonard Bernstein

1818, 1918, 2018Anniversaries

Join the Concord Band as it completes its 59th year of music-making, continuing a season-long exploration of some of the great works for symphonic concert band. The Band’s Winter Concert, 1818 1918 2018—Anniversaries, will be presented at 51 Walden, the Performing Arts Center in Concord, MA, on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at 8:00 PM. (The snow date, if necessary, is Sunday, March 4, at 2:00 PM.) Admission is free; contributions are greatly appreciated.

The works on the winter program revolve around specific composer centennials or musical milestones, with the majority of the pieces celebrating the 100th anniversary of American master Leonard Bernstein’s birth.

Overture to Candide takes a sprightly and comedic romp as the opening of his operetta, which has become extremely popular in recent years despite a less than enthusiastically-received 1956 premiere (Wikipedia). A Simple Song from the monumental composition Mass, commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy and premiered in 1971, is the second section of this thirty-two movement work. Three Dance Episodes from On The Town present the breadth and depth of musical theater storytelling combined with dance, featuring three sailors on a 24-hour shore leave in New York City. The episodes include "The Great Lover," "Lonely Town: Pas de Deux", and "Times Square: 1944."

Reaching further back in music history, we celebrate the birth of composer Charles Gounod (1818) with two compositions. The lovely Petite Symphonie is a nonet scored for flute, and pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and horns, and the tongue-in-cheek parody, Funeral March of a Marionette.

The beautiful and expressive A Trumpeter’s Lullaby by Boston musical icon Leroy Anderson was written for famed Boston Symphony trumpeter and professor of trumpet at Boston University Roger Voisin (born in 1918) and will feature Concord Band principal trumpet Richard Given.

The expansive multi-movement suite The Planets by Gustav Holst was first performed in 1918 at London’s Queens Hall for a select audience. The first movement "Mars, the Bringer of War”, has been strongly influenced by Stravinsky’s music, with its use of dissonance and mixed meter.

In the same year, Australian-born composer Percy Grainger wrote Irish Tune from County Derry (also well known as “Danny Boy”) and Shepherd’s Hey. The County Derry tune displays the com- poser’s mastery in scoring for woodwinds and brass, separately and then combined.

British composer Ralph Vaughn Williams was appointed Music Director for the British First Army in 1918, and, like Holst, is recognized as one of the first major composers to write music specifically for band. Toccata Marziale is an early concert band masterpiece, showcasing the composer’s craft, specifically in use of counterpoint and the exploitation of woodwind and brass instrumental sonorities and tone color.

As we pay tribute to important musical anniversaries in March, we look forward to the Band’s 2018–2019 season which brings a number of very special moments as we celebrate the Concord Band’s 60th Anniversary!

Concord Band Soloist Richard Given

Richard Given
Trumpet soloist Richard Given, an alumnus of the New England Conservatory and Eastman School of Music, has been principal trumpet of the Concord Band since 2015 and the Lexington Symphony since 2005. He has been called “a sovereign of the trumpet” by the Boston Globe for his work with the Boston Classical Orchestra, where he served as principal trumpet for more than 20 years, and given the Globe’s accolade, “a genius of sound,” for a premiere recording. Known for his musical versatility, he has toured nationally with the Broadway shows Les Miserables, Pirates of Penzance, 42nd Street, and Sweeney Todd, and has played in the Boston productions of Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon. In addition, he has toured Italy, performing the music of Bach and Haydn with the Chorus of Westerly, RI. Rich’s favorite distractions from the trumpet are skiing, mountain biking and disc golf.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Winter Concert Announced

2018 Winter Concert Poster

The Concord Band will present its 2018 Winter Concert on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at '51 Walden', The Performing Arts Center in Concord, MA. The theme of the concert is "1818 - 1918 - 2018 - Anniversaries," celebrating centenary, bicentenary, and contemporary anniversaries.

This is a free concert. Donations will be gratefully accepted at the door.


  • Overture to Candide, by Leonard Bernstein; led by Assistant Conductor Steven Barbas
  • Petite Suite: Adagio & Allego (Nonet), by Charles Gounod
  • Funeral March of a Marionette, by Charles Gounod
  • "A Simple Song" from Mass, by Leonard Bernstein
  • Three Dance Episodes from On the Town, by Leonard Bernstein
  • Trumpeter's Lullaby, by Leroy Anderson; with trumpet soloist Richard Given
  • Toccata Marziale, by Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • "Mars" from The Planets, by Gustav Holst
  • Irish Tune from County Derry & Shepherds Hey, by Percy Grainger

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Forward March: The Interpretation and Understanding of a March

Dr. Steven Grimo
Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.)
Dr. Steven Grimo began his career in music as a percussionist, attending the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts where he earned a BME in Music Education and a BA in Percussion Performance. After a successful teaching career in New England, Steve spent 22 years conducting US Air Force Bands. While in the Air Force, he earned his DMA from Catholic University. Steve has since retired from the Air Force and two University teaching positions. He has been the guest conductor of the Concord Band on multiple occasions.

Marches have been composed throughout every period of Western Music. Masters such as Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Bruckner, and Wagner have all composed original works in this form. The march qualifies as an important part of wind literature and band heritage. Conductors sometimes mistakenly look upon marches as secondary musical offerings, rather than recognizing the joy and energy produced by such programming “gems.” This highly stylized form, like a waltz or minuet, served much like a dance for bodily motion. The march was a functional musical form designed to keep a regular beat with an encouraging sound to keep troops in step.

In the seventeenth century, small bands of musicians marched, participated in processions, and provided rallying sounds for large gatherings. These early collections of instrumentalists usually consisted of winds and drums; “louder was better” for the open-air performances. By the eighteenth century, military musicians performed short and simple marches. During the mid-eighteenth century, the military band consisted of winds in pairs with an added side drum and bass drum; the trumpet and sackbut were occasionally added. It was not until the French Revolution that large wind bands resembled the ones we know today. As composers began to write for larger ensembles, the musical sophistication of a march began to improve. The history of the wind band closely paralleled the development of performance practices for the march.

As the nineteenth century approached, percussionists and wind musicians were assigned to military units, establishing the lasting concept of a “military” band. As military bands expanded their functions, performances began to include concerts for events such as the arrival of dignitaries. This movement directly led to a variety of musical styles performed by military musicians, all of which included various dance types and the occasional added vocal or instrumental soloist. During the early nineteenth century, Wilhelm Wieprecht of Germany (inventor of the tuba) worked extensively to establish what we have come to know as the “concert” band.

Instrumentation was established and compositions and transcriptions of orchestral music were performed. This change in performance practice moved away from the “military” band concept toward the concert band of today. Patrick S. Gilmore, who was active in the United States from 1849 until his death in 1892, is considered the “Father of the American Band.” The Marine Band, founded in 1798, consisted of 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 horns, 1 bassoon, and a drum. It was not until 1861 that the band was authorized 30 musicians. The military tradition of musicians in uniform continued through Sousa’s time and continues worldwide today.

The popularity of the quickstep, a dance popular in the nineteenth century,  became the musical foundation of dancing as well as marching. The quickstep is sectional, with repeats and no key changes. The quickstep resembles the galop (a quick dance in 2/4 time). Also during this time were grand marches, which were slower and longer than the quickstep and were in 4/4 meter. These grand marches were like the classical minuet with two strains (each repeated), a trio in a closely-related key, and a da capo (a return to the first strain). This form became the standard for marches after the middle of the century.

Like the poise and passion of a Strauss waltz, great marches are cheerful and driven to make your body move and your feet dance. Creativity, inspiration, and formal structure qualify such a composition as an important part of band repertoire. Marches are truly expressions of “music in motion,” full of humor, inventiveness and a descriptive style. The age of the march coincided with the development of the professional wind band. The transition from the Gilmore band of 1859 and Sousa’s designation as the leader of the Marine Band in 1880 encouraged prosperity and progress in concert band development. March masters such as Sousa, Fillmore, Alford, K. L. King, Goldman, J. J. Richards, R. B. Hall, and Russell Alexander developed a musical form like Johann Strauss and his treatment of the waltz.

March Styles—One of the main factors in performance is selecting the appropriate tempo. Moving a metronome marking up or down can determine the need for single or double tonguing for the brass section. These tempos are characteristic of various periods and historical function. Early American military marches were 120 beats per minute, and circus marches were double time, creating excitement and intensity for the Big Top performers. Slower than American marches, European marches are between 104 and 112 beats per minute with a more deliberate pulse. German and British marches have similar characteristics and tempo qualities as well. The Paso Doble, known as a Spanish or Latin American march, is relaxed with a rubato and operatic flavor. Some of these marches may be quicksteps with excitement and a festive quality, much like circus marches.

Tempo and Pulse—Rhythmic accuracy is the single most important factor when performing a march. Problems arise when an ensemble or section plays “in tempo” but not “in rhythm.” Incorrect subdivision and note placement cause unsteady motion within the music. The march should feel effortless and comfortable for both the players and the audience.

Articulations and Dynamics—Marches are performed with a variety of articulations. Notes that are not slurred should be played shorter than written. Accents are approached by adding length and weight or by creating space between each note. Avoiding the hard-tongue attack and using more air support will produce a better accent. Dynamic contrast and creativity will be essential to the performance. Variations between each strain of a march and contrast between sections, will make for an exciting and effective performance. Consider changes and variations in instrumentation from strain to strain. Avoid the constant tutti band sound. Mix and match various colors and contrast.

Essential Elements
  1. Tone quality: intonation, control
  2. Accuracy: articulations, unity
  3. Tempo: precision, ensemble
  4. Interpretation: style, phrasing, accents, dynamics, balance, expression
Objective Checklist
  1. Rhythmic energy
  2. March style, detached style
  3. Attack and breath
  4. Release, tone and tongue
  5. Accents
  6. Dynamics, phrasing, expression
  7. Inner voices: balance, definition
  8. Countermelody
  9. Bass line and horn balance to melodic line
  10. Basic march elements: melody, harmony and rhythm
  11. Tone quality
  12. Vitality, motion and character, clarity of rhythm
  13. Percussion: rhythm, movement, tempo and precision
  14. Clarity of upper voices, ornamentation, accuracy and unity
  15. Balance, blend, and projection

Monday, January 1, 2018

What Music Would You Listen To on a 100 Mile Run?

Adena running at Fort McDowell State Park, outside Phoenix, at about mile 30, well before the blue hour.
(Photo by Howie Stern, race photographer)
—by Adena Schutzberg

I’ve observed a connection between my running and the music we play in the Concord Band. You could even say that my running is what brought me to The Concord Band. When I started running seriously, I found myself in a quandary. My running club, The Somerville Roadrunners, held track practice on the Tuesday nights. That was the same night the Woburn City Band held its rehearsals! It was on a rare Tuesday night that I didn’t have track practice, that I visited with my bandmates and learned that the Concord Band needed a clarinet or two for an upcoming concert. I was invited to rehearse, on Monday nights, and perform in the concert.

I was honored to be invited to join the band officially after the Holiday Pops concerts in 2005. Our Winter Concert featured The Gum-Suckers March by Percy Aldridge Grainger. It was the first time I’d played it and it was quite challenging. I’d rehearse one passage of about ten measures over and over. In February 2006, I traveled to Martha’s Vineyard to run a 20 mile race. The race was very cold and long. And what was the soundtrack in my head? Those ten measures of The Gum-Suckers March! I recall mentioning the experience to then Music Director Bill McManus who was not sure what to make of it, but was pleased I was practicing!

More recently I’ve begun to consciously select Concord Band music to listen to while running. For each new concert members receive a “Practice CD,” with performances of each piece. It’s been valuable for me to get more familiar with the music, to follow along on my own part, and sometimes to “play along.” I like to move the music to my iPod and listen to it a few times during training runs.

I listen to audio while doing training runs, but I rarely listen to anything when racing. Some races do not allow earbuds for safety reasons bit I just prefer to focus on a new location and my fellow runners. That said, I changed my practice, just a little, after this year’s Winter Concert titled Shades of Blue. While I loved all the pieces, I could not get John Mackey’s 2010 Hymn to a Blue Hour out of my head.

The blue hour refers to the time of day after twilight but before total darkness. I read about the piece online and was excited to learn that Mr. Mackey accepted our invitation to attend our concert. After chatting with the composer at the reception after the concert, I came up with an idea. I was training for a 100 mile race a few weeks after our concert. I decided to put a recording of the piece on my iPod and carry it with me. I’d wait until just the right moment and try to experience The Hymn to a Blue Hour at the blue hour.

A few weeks later I was running in Raleigh, North Carolina in a lovely forested park on smooth, wide dirt roads. I looked forward to the blue hour from the 6 am start and finally pushed play at about 5:30 pm. I remember listening and looking up at the sky through the trees. At one point, after I’d put away the iPod, I caught up with a runner who’d passed me during that time. She said, “I’m not sure what you were listening to when I went by but you had a huge grin on your face.” After that experience, I decided, if at all possible, I’d play Hymn to a Blue Hour during every 100 mile run.

As we played through our music for our Fall Concert (Songs and Dances), I noted a piece called Cantus: Song of the Night. When we played it, we all got the Hymn to a Blue Hour vibe, even though this piece was written two years earlier (2008) by Austrian composer, Thomas Doss. Cantus is performed with an accompaniment of ocean and seabird sounds. I grew to really like that night piece, too, and was ecstatic about how well we performed it at the concert, the week before my next 100 mile race, scheduled for Phoenix. I added it to my playlist.

This race was in a desert park on trails with loose rocks, some soft sand and cactus that sometimes got uncomfortably close. Again, I looked forward to the right moment to press play, this time listening to Cantus before Hymn to a Blue Hour. Again, I had a very enjoyable transition into night.

Now that I’ve added this little bit of music to my 100 mile runs, I’m beginning to understand why I enjoy it so much. First off, it’s simply something special to look forward to during a run that will typically take me more than 24 hours. Second, it’s always fun to listen to music you like. Third, the music, this music, helps calmly introduce the night. Running at night can be especially stressful. Runners don headlamps to light the way and often slow down to prevent getting lost or falling. Somehow, I feel more ready to take on the night with night music in my head. I plan to continue this tradition of playing appropriate “night music” during the blue hour.

Adena Schutzberg has been a member of the Concord Band clarinet section for 12 years. This year she completed the Umstead 100 Endurance Run in April and the Javelina Jundred (Hundred) in October of 2017.

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