Saturday, February 24, 2018

Anniversaries

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
trumpet

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
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.

PROGRAM

  • 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

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