Thursday, March 6, 2008

Review: Band's sounds of the season

By Pamela J. Marshall
Submitted to the Concord Journal

The highlight of the Concord Band's Winter concert was Colours by Roger Cichy, written in 1997. The band has commissioned Cichy for its 50th anniversary concert in March 2009, and throughout this season, Music Director William McManus has been introducing this composer to band members and audiences by programming some of his other music. Colours is a challenging, complex work with flavors of a big-band jazz sound.

The piece has six short movements, each named after a color with a suggestive mood, such as mauve, dark ivy, amber. At the opening, a fast fanfare motive was passed among the sections — trumpets, horns, woodwinds — and everyone executed these technical passages with panache. The second movement included a bluesy introduction of parallel chords and a modal melody with lovely ornaments, played with expression by the piccolo and saxophone. The third movement was strongly reminiscent of Bernstein's West Side Story and there was crisp playing from the percussion section. The big band feeling got stronger in the fifth movement with a sax solo that could have been in a James Bond movie; the performer appropriately over-dramatized it with lots of vibrato, making me smile. The last movement was up-tempo, full of irregular rhythms and rich, dark harmonies and the brass really wailed at the climax.