Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday, March 9, 2018

Spring Pops Concert Features Vocalist Amanda Carr

Amanda Carr
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 the audience and band members alike! The Concord Band Jazz Combo will join the exciting and fun-filled evening of music for a special tune with Amanda.

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

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 MarionetteCharles 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)

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