Monday, March 4, 2019

Concord Band Celebrates Their 60th Anniversary

By Pamela Marshall

The “Happy Anniversary” Winter Concert by the Concert Band on Saturday March 2, 2019 was a joyous event. The 60-year history of the band was evident in every detail. The program included music the band has commissioned over the years, including two new commissions for this concert. The composers were there to conduct their music. Music Director Emeritus William McManus, who retired 10 years ago, was there as guest conductor too. Music Director James O’Dell spoke before each piece with stories about his own 10-year tenure with the Band, his connection with his predecessor Bill McManus, and his pride in the band’s accomplishments.

The Band members are devoted, and many have been in the band for many years. They are also fine musicians. Every section—brass, woodwinds, percussion—had their moment to shine in the diverse programming.

The conductors (l. to r.): Andrew Boysen, Jr.,
James O'Dell, Roger Cichy, William McManus.
Both commissioned composers, Roger Cichy and Andrew Boysen Jr., hit independently upon the same musical germ, turning the initials of the Concord Band Association into the equivalent musical notes or keys: C, B, A.

Cichy’s Emblazoned Joy fanfare surprised us when the quiet middle section supported a spoken intro to the concert. When the energetic fanfare returned, punctuated by wooden whip and bass drum flourishes, we, the audience, were fully into the festive mood.

Andrew Boysen’s piece, Diamond Jubilee Suite wrapped the music history of bands in general and the history of the Concord Band into his piece. The first movement began and ended with snare drum and piccolo alone delicately evoking a fife-and-drum corps marching in and heading away. The second movement “Song” began with a lovely saxophone solo, Director Emeritus Bill McManus’s instrument, and the third movement “Finale” opened with a lively tuba solo in tribute to current Director Jim O’Dell. The Finale gradually brought in the whole ensemble, layering its intricate rhythmic patterns to create a rousing ending for the whole band, and the thrilling energy brought the audience to its feet in a standing ovation.

A 25th anniversary commission followed the fanfare, Five Concord Diversions, by James Curnow. It featured a solo brass quintet, played by members of the Band – Richard Given and Art Zavarella on trumpet, Cameron Owen on horn, Peter Norton on trombone, and Kevin Kozik on tuba. This difficult piece showed off the musical skill of these soloists, as well as individual members of the woodwinds, brass, and percussion. In “Introduction”, the brass soloists played sparkling musical fanfares over a clock-like accompaniment from the woodwinds. In “Romance”, Rich Given’s solo trumpet was a quietly dramatic beginning and each soloist took the expressive lead in turn, with woodwind solos interspersed. An unusual duet between Kevin Kozik on tuba and oboe crowned this gorgeous movement. The short “March” featured percussion providing the rhythmic support for the solo quintet. Then they cleverly switched roles as the brass players marked the beat and the woodblock reduced the melody to its rhythmic essence – neatly done. “Ballad” featured the various sections of the brass in answer to their soloing representative, starting with the horn’s beautiful opening statement. The low brass in particular shone with its smooth and rich warm sound. The Finale started with the whole band, playing an angular energetic theme. The angular theme became more and more solid and finished in a rousing ending. Bravo to the soloists and the whole band in this challenging work.

The program included several other delightful works, including Valdres, an elegant Norwegian march featuring Richard Given on cornet; a magically clever Abracadabra by Ticheli; Flourish for Wind Band by Vaughan Williams; and Sousa’s first big hit, The Gladiator.

The hall was nearly full, with an audience of appreciative listeners and supportive families. Several band alumni traveled from far away to be in Concord for this happy occasion. A few of them joined the band onstage to play William Toland’s arrangement of Auld Lang Syne, a traditional closer for the Concord Band’s Pops concerts. The audience sang along gently, but this singer didn’t want to cover up the warm lyricism of the instruments themselves.

There were speeches during this celebratory concert, but they were cleverly interspersed through the program, avoiding any speech-boredom. Band President Ken Troup read a congratulatory Proclamation from the Town of Concord Select Board. Jim O’Dell presented June Grace, band member since 1971, with a certificate on her retirement. The president of the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, another fine local band, brought his congratulations. Everyone who was at this concert knows that the Concord Band is a local treasure, and their music-making is a boon to the Concord community.

Pamela Marshall is a composer (spindrift.com) and horn player from Lexington who has been a member of the Concord Orchestra for more than 20 years. She has many conflicts of interest as she writes about the Band since she has many friends among its members.

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