Friday, February 22, 2019

Diamond Jubilee Suite

Andrew Boysen
composer
Diamond Jubilee Suite was commissioned by the Concord Band (Massachusetts), James O’Dell, Music Director, to celebrate the Concord Band’s 60th anniversary. The suite follows traditional form, consisting of three movements (March, Song, and Finale) and using the motivic cell of C-B-A (for Concord Band Association) as formative and thematic material. The three notes that make up this set also form the key centers for each of the piece’s three movements (I is in C major, II is in B♭ major, and III is in A♭ major/whole tone). Each of the three movements also pay homage to one of the band’s three conductors and one of the band’s three main functions throughout its history and each movement is also slightly more difficult than the previous movement, reflecting the continued and consistent growth in the musicianship of the band.

The first movement, “March,” is dedicated to William Toland, the first director of the Concord Band. He was a percussionist, thus the first instrument heard in the movement is an off-stage snare drum. This movement is also intended to reflect one of the earliest functions of the band, marching in town and regional parades. It is in the form of a patrol, intended to suggest the approach, passing by, and recession of the band in an actual parade. The movement begins with an off-stage snare drum and then an off-stage piccolo, indicative of the fife and drum music that traces itself to the roots of Concord’s history in the Revolutionary War. The first three notes of the first strain as well as the beginning of the trio are the descending tri-chord that is the main motive for the piece.

The second movement, “Song,” is dedicated to William McManus, the second director of the Concord Band. He was a saxophone player, so the first instrument heard in this movement is an alto saxophone soloist playing the main melody for the movement. One of the main functions of the Concord Band has been to play a series of outdoor summer concerts that feature lighter and more popular music. Mr. McManus was also the conductor who worked hard to bring more popular music into the band’s repertoire. This is reflected in the movement through traditional song form (AABA) presented twice and sandwiching a lighter and more playful middle section. The pitch material for the movement takes the main tri-chord and adds a chordal fifth to it, creating a more “popular music” sound through what is usually referred to as an added ninth chord. Finally, this movement pays homage to the three important composers who wrote suites for band which form the cornerstones of our repertoire. The alto saxophone solo at the beginning is an additional reference to the second movement of Gordon Jacob’s Original Suite, the climax and conclusion of the exterior sections are obvious references to the second movement of Gustav Holst’s Suite in F, and the faster interior section is an homage to the second movement of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s English Folk Song Suite.

The third movement, “Finale,” is dedicated to the band’s third (and present) conductor, James O’Dell. He is a tuba player, so the opening solo this time is on that instrument. This movement is intended to reflect the band’s more serious, indoor concerts in which they have gradually approached more and more challenging musical works, especially under the leadership of Mr. O’Dell. Therefore, this movement takes the basic tri-chord and expands it to become a full whole tone scale for parts of the movement. It also uses a technique called bitonality, where sections of the ensemble are playing different chords at the same time. The movement is in ABAB form with a short coda at the end. The A sections are based entirely on the opening tuba phrase, with the melodic material simply being an augmented version of the energetic bass line. The first B section recalls the trio melody from the first movement and the second B section recalls the main melody of the second movement, thereby connecting each of these movements to each other. The climax of the work arrives with a final, decisive C-B♭-A♭ statement in the brass. There is a moment of silence and then the three soloists/conductors (snare drum, alto saxophone, tuba) combine to lead the ensemble into a final celebratory phrase.

—Andrew Boysen

Friday, February 15, 2019

Emblazoned Joy

Roger Cichy
composer
Milestones are milestones and although sixty years of the Concord Band’s existence may not seem so long in terms of community bands on average, it’s sixty years of high activity, great music making and creative productivity. Luckily, this fine organization’s initials are C-B-A (standing for the Concord Band Association), but to the composer’s delight, musical notes. So it is appropriate and fitting to emblazon those three notes throughout the fanfare and mark another significant milestone for a musical organization that brings so much joy to its members, and joy to its many audiences. And as uplifting and entertaining as the Concord Band is in its music making, it was in the mind of the composer to capture this by creating a short melodic logo, a sort of musical trademark, for the Concord Band, which is first heard during the announcement section of the fanfare, then fully scored for the final statement of the piece. This fanfare pushes the limits on its scale source by incorporating a raised fourth, just as the Concord Band pushes the limits on what is possible with a community band. —Roger Cichy

The Concord Band 60th Anniversary Celebration

Saturday, March 2, 2019 • 8 PM

Join the Concord Band as it continues to celebrate 60 years of music-making with an anniversary concert at 51 W a/den, the Performing Arts Center in Concord, MA, 9 on Saturday, March 2, 2019, at 8:00 PM. The Band will perform several significant works commissioned by the Band, two world premieres, and some of the greatest music composed for symphonic concert band. Admission is free, however tickets must be reserved in advance at www.ticketstage.com/concordband. Contributions received at GoFundMe or at the door are greatly appreciated.

Roger Cichy
composer
Two new commissions will take center stage at the March concert, both penned by prolific New England composers. Emblazoned Joy, by Rhode Island composer Roger Cichy, incorporates the notes C-B-A (Concord Band Association) as motivic elements which all sections of the Band get to play at some point during this robust and lively fanfare.

Andrew Boysen
composer
New Hampshire composer Andrew Boysen Jr. wrote Diamond Jubilee Suite following traditional form, consisting of three movements (March, Song, and Finale), also using the motivic cell of C-B-A as formative and thematic material. The three notes that make up this set also form the key centers for each of the piece's three movements (I is in C major, II is in Bb major, and III is in Ab major/whole tone). Each of the three movements also pays homage to one of the band's three Music Directors and one of the band's three main functions throughout its history. Each movement is also slightly more difficult than the previous movement, reflecting the continued and consistent growth in the musicianship of the band.

Abracadabra by Frank Ticheli is a magical piece, full of fun and fantasy with the majority of the composition being crafted from the opening main theme, traversing abrupt and recurring "magically" exciting events.

James Curnow
composer
One of the Concord Band's many commissions, James Curnow's Five Concord Diversions, was written in 1987 in commemoration of William Toland's 25th year as Music Director of the Concord Band. The work is brilliantly scored for brass quintet and band with the outer movements featuring brass quintet and the tutti ensemble, while the inner three movements feature the brass quintet paired with woodwinds, percussion, and brass respectively.

Alfred Reed's Festival Prelude "was conceived specifically in terms of its title as an opening kind of piece ... the music was to establish a bright and brilliant mood throughout, with no other connotation in mind." Two fanfare-like motifs and a main theme occur throughout the composition using the brass and woodwinds separately and combined to impart tone color and majesty. Conducting the work will be Concord Band Music Director Emeritus Dr. William G. McManus.

Two extraordinary marches are featured on the program. Valdres March by Johannes Hanssen "is one of the most famous marches ever composed and is evocative and expressive of Norway, its land of birth. The opening tune is played by the comet and is a bugle call from the Valdres Battalion. The second subject is an old tune for hardanger fiddle. The trio is a pentatonic tune based upon Norwegian folk music." Also featured at the Band's 25th Anniversary concert, The Gladiator March by John Philip Sousa is considered to be the composer's first successful march and received many public performances. It sold more than one million copies.

Flourish for Wind Band by English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams is a masterfully elegant, transparent, and seemingly simple fanfare written in 1939 as an opening celebratory performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

William Toland's arrangement of Auld Lang Syne rounds out the program paying homage to the spirit of the Concord Band, the many audiences that have enjoyed the concert performances, and the members themselves, who have valued and enjoyed lifelong music-making.

Friday, February 1, 2019

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