Friday, December 10, 2010

2010 Holiday Pops

The Concord Band

James O’Dell, Music Director
Steven Barbas, Assistant Conductor
Rene Lewis Pfister, Guest Vocalist
December 10 & 11, 2010


Overture to a Winter FestivalJames Curnow
Concord Band Commission
Polish Christmas MusicJohan de Meij
Christmas DayGustav Holst; arr. William Rhoads
Steven Barbas Conducting


Dixieland Jam!arr. Bob Lowden
I Feel a Song Comin’ OnMcHugh, Fields, & Oppenheimer;
arr. Warren Barker
One Note SambaAntonio Carlos Jobim; arr. Jerry Seeco
Have Yourself a Merry Little ChristmasMartin & Blaine; arr. Douglas Wagner
Rene Lewis Pfister, Guest Vocalist
Angels From The Realms of GloryJames Montgomery; arr. Robert W. Smith


Festive Sounds of Hanukaharr. Bill Holcombe
Let’s All Sing for Christmasarr. James D. Ployhar
Jingle Bells, Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, Oh Christmas Tree, Up on a Housetop
A Christmas Portrait—Sing-Alongarr. Jerry Nowak
Sleigh RideLeroy Anderson
Auld Lang Synearr. William M. Toland

Guest Artist: Rene Lewis Pfister

Rene Lewis Pfister
Guest Vocalist
A multi-talented actor, musician, and composer, Rene Lewis Pfister’s performances have included over 200 original songs, 30 musicals, and 20 years of cabaret. A Berklee College of Music graduate, Rene has studied with master teachers from Stella Adler, Circle in the Square Playhouse, and Shakespeare & Company. He has acted, music directed, and directed regionally in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York and has appeared on stage in the 30th Anniversary European Tour of Hair and locally at the Cutler Majestic in "On the Twentieth Century" with Tony Award winner Alice Ripley. In 2007 he created MAKE YOUR LIFE A MUSICAL a company that creates personalized musicals for special events. He vocal coaches adults and young people locally in Concord and is excited to be returning for a second appearance with the Concord Band! For more info or to book Rene for a special event, visit!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

2010 Fall Concert


Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Concord Band

James O’Dell, Music Director


Manatee Lyric OvertureRobert Sheldon
PageantVincent Persichetti
Marche des Parachutistes BelgesPierre Leemans; arr. Wiley
Movements from “Pictures at an Exhibition”Modest Moussorgsky; trans. Leidzen
  1. Promenade
  2. The Old Castle
  3. Ballet of the Unhatched Chickens
  4. Hut of the Baba-Yaga
  5. The Great Gate of Kiev


The Fairest of the FairJohn Philip Sousa; ed. Fennell
Scenes from “The Louvre”Norman Dello Joio
  1. The Portals
  2. Children's Gallery
  3. The Kings of France
  4. The Nativity Paintings
  5. Finale
Con Sabor EspañolLewis J. Buckley
"The Wrong Note Rag" from Wonderful TownLeonard Bernstein; arr. Ricketts

Read all notes from this program...

Manatee Lyric Overture

Manatee Lyric Overture by Robert Sheldon was commissioned by the Manatee County School Board (FL), and was written in commemoration of the opening of the Manatee County Civic Center in Bradenton, Florida. A colorful and lyric overture for band in a fast-slow-fast setting, the overture was first performed in 1985 by the Manatee County High School Honor Band, with the composer conducting. A trumpet solo opens the slow middle section, with soaring melodies and a festive closing section. (Source: published score and JRO)


Pageant, commissioned by the American Bandmasters Association and completed in January, 1953, was Vincent Persichetti's third work for band. It opens in slow tempo with a motive in the horn that is used throughout both sections of the piece. The slow chordal section is succeeded by a lively "parade" section introduced by the snare drum. In the final portion of the work, the two principal subjects are developed simultaneously, leading to a lively climax. The first performance of this work took place on March 7, 1953, at the ABA Convention in Miami. It was performed by the University of Miami Band, with the composer conducting. Pageant was followed by numerous other original works that championed the standard literature for contemporary concert band. (Source: Vincent Persichetti and JRO)

Marche des Parachutistes Belges

Based on the original title, the listener expects Marche des Parachutistes Belges to be a march with a European flavor. The thin scoring and folk song idiom of the first strain soon confirm the European origin. At the Trio, the same tune reappears as a counter-melody to a smooth-flowing melody. Pierre Leemans wrote the march in 1945 after a dinner with a group of Belgian paratroopers. As he was driven home later that night, the march melody came to mind and Leemans finished the other parts after reaching home. As Leemans explained, “Like all successful music, this tune flowed from my pen as water out of a fountain.” (Source: Band Music Notes, Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire)

Pictures at an Exhibition

Written as a tribute to his close friend, the architect Victor Hartmann, Modest Moussorgsky’s suite for piano describes ten of the drawings which most impressed him from the four hundred displayed in a memorial exhibition. Notable band arranger and composer Erik Leidzen (1894-1962) was a major contributor to the early band repertoire, and for over 23 years (1933-1956) he served as the principal arranger for the Goldman Band of New York City. His output was astounding and included a wide variety of arrangements, transcriptions and original compositions for band. This transcription of Pictures at an Exhibition was ordered by Edwin Franko Goldman in 1935, and resulted in ten movements that closely model Ravel’s arrangement for orchestra. (Source: Band Music Notes, Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire and JRO)

The Fairest of the Fair

One of John Philip Sousa’s favorite sayings was “A horse, a dog, a gun, a girl, and music on the side, that is my idea of heaven.” When all of his march titles are examined, Sousa’s appreciation of the fairer sex is obvious. In this instance the subject was a pretty girl who worked at the annual Boston Food Fair. Even though the “march king” never met the young lady, her memory inspired the title when he was preparing a new march for the Food Fair in 1908. The Fairest of the Fair is generally regarded as one of his most melodic and best-written marches. (Source: March Music Notes, Norman Smith)

Scenes from the Louvre

Norman Dello Joio was no stranger to New England and Boston, serving as Dean of the School for the Arts at Boston University from 1972 to 1979. Scenes from the Louvre (originally written for orchestra to accompany an NBC television special focusing on the Paris musem, depicting the development of the Louvre’s construction during the Renaissance), won Dello Joio an Emmy in 1965. The concert band version was commissioned by the Baldwin-Wallace Symphonic band and was premiered in 1966, with the composer conducting. The suite of five movements authentically captures the Renaissance music style and character, often showing the composer’s technique of variation with a clear formal structure. Dello Joio was a major contributor to original contemporary band works, with Scenes and other works for band widely acknowledged as a cornerstone in the band literature. (Source: JRO)

Con Sabor Español

Lewis J. Buckley served as conductor and music director of the United States Coast Guard Band (New London, CT) for 29 years, and now serves as Music Director of the Metropolitan Wind Symphony. When auditions were held to choose Captain Buckley's successor as Conductor of the Coast Guard Band, part of the conducting audition was a sightreading session. As most of the candidates were members of the Coast Guard Band, it was virtually impossible to find anything in the Band library that was unknown to all of them; so Captain Buckley wrote a short piece for the audition, then titled “Conducting Exercise.” Into this piece, Captain Buckley put many of the knotty little conducting problems he had dealt with over the years, including mixed meter, tempo changes, instrumental cadenzas, and fermatas in difficult places. Though written as an exercise, this piece was popular with the band members so Captain Buckley expanded it into a concert work. Thus was born Con Sabor Español (With a Spanish Flavor). It has since been performed widely, to the delight of audiences and players alike. (Source: Lewis J. Buckley)

The Wrong Note Rag

Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town opened at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City on February 23, 1953, swiftly winning a Tony award for Best Musical. The whimsical and quirky "The Wrong Note Rag" superbly captures the lighter side of this award-winning musical gem. (Source: JRO)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Musical Inventions Necessitated by Being a Percussionist

Plato is reported to have said “Necessity is the mother of invention” about 2,400 years ago. As far as we know, he did not have the advantage of being a percussionist. Drummers invent things all of the time simply because playing their instruments or moving quickly from one instrument to another demands it. Sometimes these inventions are commercially-available products; more often than not, one must build a device based on one’s own idea, or on a concept borrowed from a fellow percussionist.

castanet base
Percussionist Dan Diamond, who has been with the Concord Band since 1970, learned while in high school that percussionists are required to be inventive. The first stand he ever saw that allowed a player to quickly pick up and put down a pair of crash cymbals was made by Warren Myers, then principal percussionist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (formerly with the Boston Pops) and director of Dan’s high school band. Dan still uses a pair of castanets mounted for him by Myers on a plastic base more than 50 years ago.

wind machine
The first device that Dan was called upon to construct was in his earliest days as a member of both the Band and the Concord Orchestra, which he joined at the same time: a “wind machine”. It was called for by Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, being performed by the Orchestra. Amazingly, it was needed by the Band in the very next season for Robert Russell Bennett’s Down to the Sea in Ships. A percussion wind machine produces not wind but the sound of wind. The Internet not yet having been invented, there was no way to determine easily how existing wind machines had been constructed, so Dan contacted Everett Beale, a neighbor and one of Boston’s leading free-lance professional percussionists, who described to Dan on the phone how the Boston Symphony’s wind machine was constructed.

When Neil Tischler, a consulting mechanical engineer, joined the Band percussion section in 1972, he and Dan discussed the need for a crash cymbal stand. Neil designed and built the stand that the Band still uses (photo, right). In the opinions of many percussionists, Neil’s design is more functional than the commercial products that finally became available 20 or so years ago. The principal drawback of the latter is that while several different players, located yards apart on the stage, may have to play the crash cymbals in the same piece of music, these stands do not have wheels. When the Band found it useful to acquire a commercial stand a few years ago so that one could remain at Fruitlands during the summer and one be kept at 51 Walden for rehearsals, Buck Grace, a Band percussionist since 1995, built a rolling base for the commercial stand.

While still on the subject of cymbals, but this time those referred to as “suspended,” we have two more Concord Band inventions. Neil Tischler, who plays drum set in the Band whenever it is called for, realized many years ago that it would be convenient to be able to stack two cymbals several inches apart on one stand (as long as the upper cymbal is much smaller in diameter than the lower, always the case when it is a “splash” cymbal). Being an accomplished machinist, about 20 years ago Neil fabricated an extension to the upper arm of a suspended cymbal stand by threading both ends of a steel rod: one end internally and one externally: The cymbal post extension was born.

Dan Diamond prefers to hang a suspended cymbal from a “crook” rather than to put it on the post of a suspended cymbal stand. This requires that a leather cymbal strap—similar to the kind used for crash cymbals—be attached to the cymbal. The problem with this is that it takes a few minutes to untie and retie the special knot that holds a cymbal strap to a cymbal, meaning that it becomes inconvenient to quickly switch a suspended cymbal from “crook” use to “stand post” use. So Diamond invented a quick-change strap that goes on and comes off in seconds.

Dan Diamond is the senior member of the Concord Band, having joined the ensemble in January, 1970. He is a percussionist who began his lifelong love affair with the snare drum 63 years ago. His is also the founder/ editor of our newsletter, Notes from the Concord Band.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Making of the Concord Band Concert Archive

Sound, and now, Sight

The robocam (inset), operated from inside the control booth,
above and behind the music stage, captures many interesting
views of the Concord Band and Music Director James O’Dell.
Audio recordings of the Concord Band’s concerts go back to the tenure of the Band’s first Music Director, William M. Toland, in 1962. Recorded initially on Phillips cassettes by an amateur, the cassettes were made available to any members of the Band who wanted to have something to show for all the effort that had gone into their concert preparations and were also saved as part of what became the Concord Band Archive. The Archive is now kept in the vault at the Concord Public Library.

Cameras, at the rear of the hall,
one on each side, and a remotely
operated camera behind the Band,
give the producer and technical
director many options.  All CCTV
operators are volunteers.
In the ‘80’s, when it became economical to produce CDs on a small scale, the father of one of the members of the Band began to record our concerts digitally, using video cassettes as the recording medium. Eventually, the Band hired a professional audio engineer, who brought in hundreds of pounds of digital recording equipment for each concert and set up multiple high-quality microphones on stands, running endless cable up into the control booth that sits above the percussion equipment closets at the back of the music stage at the Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden. Over time, the recording equipment became less bulky; today a conventional PC running specialized software attached to a multi-channel microphone mixer is used. A few years ago, the Band’s audio engineer at that time gave the Band four high-quality microphones and all the necessary cable so that they could be permanently installed at 51 Walden. This, of course, meant that it was no longer necessary for stands to be set up and microphone cable to be run for each concert. As planning for the Concord Band’s 50th Anniversary season, 2008-2009, took place, Dan Diamond, a long-time Band member and Trustee, wondered whether it would be feasible to take the next logical step and make video recordings of the Band’s concerts. He contacted Charles Paige, Executive Director of Concord- Carlisle TV, the town’s public access cable channel, and a visit by CCTV people to 51 Walden suggested that our building was ideal. The control booth was perfect, but the key ingredient was that a professional audio engineer was already recording the music, which meant that he might be able to provide the necessary stereo feed. As it turned out, he could.

Producer Barry Mirrer
determines what should
be featured on screen
based on the musical score.
There was now only one ingredient missing: We would have to find a producer who could read concert band conductors’ scores, was willing to learn a little about TV production, but most important of all, was willing to put in the time in advance of each Concord Band concert to analyze and mark up a set of scores with camera cues that he or she would read back in real time during a concert to the technical director. The technical director, in turn, would actually communicate with the camera operators over an intercom, telling each of them what their next shot should be (e.g., solo clarinet) and operate the real-time camera switch to determine which camera image to record. The technical director must be an experienced professional, and Matt Geiger, CCTV’s production manager, has handled that job superbly in all three videos.

Technical Director Matt Geiger
of CCTV directs and selects
camera shots in real time.
Finding an experienced concert producer was out of the ques t ion, be cause this had to be a volunteer. While we put out the word that we were looking for such an individual, Dan drafted a one page document that could have been entitled How to be a Video Producer for a Concert Band Concert. It had a chart showing where all the instruments of the Band sat, and a section labeled “Intercom Instructions for Communications between Video Producer, Camera Operators and Switch Operator”, which, ignoring the role of the technical director, shows how little he knew about video operations at the time. Ignorance being bliss, however, the Band found Barry Mirrer, who had band conducting experience mostly from conducting pit bands for shows. He has been perfect for the job, getting better and better at it with each of the three videos that have now been made.

Once the video has been recorded, all that remains is for the raw “footage” to be cleaned up, a title screen added up front and credits to be added at the end. For the first Band concert video, Dan Diamond, who had by then discovered that he was the Executive Producer of the video, decided that it might be fun to learn how to do the post-production editing himself. Like lots of things (skiing, for example) that look like fun until one tries to do them oneself, he managed to get through it—and some parts of it actually are fun. But having to re-learn the software twice a year—because that’s not often enough to remember how to do much of anything— does take some of the fun out of it.

Concord Band concert videos may be viewed on CCTV’s website and on the Concord Band's YouTube channel.

Dan Diamond is the senior member of the Concord Band, having joined the ensemble in January, 1970. He is a percussionist who began his lifelong love affair with the snare drum 63 years ago. His is the founder and editor of our newsletter, Notes from the Concord Band, and Executive Producer for Video Production.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

2010 Winter Concert

The French Connection

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Concord Band 

James O'Dell, Music Director
Dennis Shafer, Alto Saxophone Soloist
The Back Bay Saxophone Quartet


Overture in CCharles Simon Catel; ed. Goldman & Smith
Suite FrançaiseDarius Milhaud
  1. Normandie
  2. Bretagne
  3. Ile de France
  4. Alsace-Lorraine
  5. Provence
The Girl with the Flaxen HairClaude Debussy; arr. Moss
Dennis Shafer, Alto Saxophone
"March to the Scaffold"
   from Symphonie Fantastique
Hector Berlioz; trans. Rogers


Fanfare from La PeriPaul Dukas
Prelude from Suite BergamasqueClaude Debussy; trans. Holcombe
Stephen Foster RevisitedBill Holcombe
The Back Bay Saxophone Quartet
Old Home DaysCharles E. Ives; arr. Elkus
  1. Waltz
  2. The Opera House, Old Home Day
  3. The Collection
  4. Slow March
  5. London Bridge is Fallen Down!
Le Régiment de Sambre et MeuseJoseph F. Rauski; arr. Seredy; ed. Fennell

Read all notes for this program...

Overture in C

Charles Simon Catel was one of the most important musicians in France during the eighteenth century. His treatise on harmony for many years was the accepted text at the Paris Conservatory. The Overture in C was composed in 1792 for the Band of the National Guard, with whom Catel maintained a long association. The piece shows the composer at his best, and the influence of Mozart is clearly recognizable. In its elegance and clarity, it is a characteristic of the perfection of the late eighteenth-century style, and is one of the most delightful of all the works composed for wind band during this period. (Source: Band Music Notes, Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire)

Suite Française

Suite Française was commissioned by the publishing firm Leeds Music in 1945, and all five movements are named after French provinces where American and allied armies joined forces with the French underground to liberate France. Darius Milhaud used French folksongs in the movements and writes, “I wanted the young Americans to hear the popular melodies of those parts of France where their fathers and brothers fought.” Milhaud was associated with a group of young French composers known as “Les Six,” determined to break the impressionistic chains surrounding French music. In 1940, when the Germans overran his native country, Milhaud moved to the United States and served as composer-in-residence at Mills College in Oakland, California. (Source: Band Music Notes, Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire)

The Girl with the Flaxen Hair

Claude Debussy wrote two sets of preludes, twelve in each, between 1910 and 1923. The best of them are among the finest miniatures in the piano literature. Each prelude is relatively short in duration, free in form and has the character of an improvisation. A gem in the collection, The Girl with the Flaxen Hair, was likely inspired by a work of the same title by French poet Leconte de Lisle. Evocative and enchanting, the melody of this piece is one of Debussy’s most exquisite. Although this prelude is most definitely a musical “impression”, its clarity of texture and harmonic vocabulary are far removed from the vagueness generally associated with “impressionism,” the prevailing French musical style of the period. (Source: published score)

March to the Scaffold

March to the Scaffold is the fourth movement from Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. Berlioz wrote this work during an emotionally charged period of his life, a time when he was deeply in love with Irish Shakespearean actress Harriet Smithson (whom he married in 1833). This programmatic symphony was first performed in 1830 and is considered one of the most significant pieces of the early Romantic period. (Source: JRO)

Fanfare from La Peri

The Fanfare from La Peri was written in 1912 by French composer Paul Dukas, who championed modern music of the time, joining noted composers revolting against artistic formalism. Dukas wrote this fanfare for his ballet La Peri, and scored it for 3 trumpets, 4 horns, 3 trombones and tuba. The Fanfare holds a unique place in the brass ensemble repertoire and is likely one of the most notable brass fanfares of the past century. (Source: JRO)

Prelude from Suite Bergamasque

Prelude from Suite Bergamasque, written by Claude Debussy in 1890, but not published until 1905, is in A-B-A form. The later publishing followed stylistic updating, reflecting Debussy’s desire to revise the original composition with more current musical ideas and stylistic considerations. Bill Holcombe’s transcription highlights the unique color of the Woodwind ensemble, and captures the gleam and transparency, with full impressionistic sonorities. (Source: JRO)

Stephen Foster Revisited

The Back Bay Saxophone Quartet is our guest ensemble, performing Stephen Foster Revisited, a setting by Bill Holcombe of several familiar Stephen Foster tunes: Camptown Races, I Dream of Jeannie, O Susannah, Beautiful Dreamer, and Swannee River. Foster was considered the father of American Music and his songs have been widely incorporated, from official state songs to operatic melodies. (Source: JRO)

Old Home Days

Old Home Days is a collection of songs in a five-movement suite that clearly presents the composer Charles Ives' love of familiar tunes and grass-roots music making. Ives was born in Danbury, Connecticut, in 1874, and his father, an accomplished cornet player and Civil War bandmaster, was Charles’ first and most influential music teacher. While he insisted on the mastery of traditional music practice, his imaginative teaching also inspired Charles’ remarkable experiments with new kinds of musical sounds. (Source: published score)

Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse

Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse (March Militaire Française) by Joseph F. Rauski enjoys an unusual past and distinctive present. Rauski's 1919 march is based on both a song by Jean Robert Planquette, who lived at the end of the 19th century, and lines from his contemporary French poet Paul Cezano about peasant-citizen-soldiers whose patriotism recounted heroic deeds by invading European monarchists attempting to overthrow the Revolution in 1793. Some audiences will recognize this unique march as that played by the Ohio State University Marching Band performing the signature “Script Ohio” formation that is concluded with the dotting of the “i’” by the sousaphone. (Source: published score and JRO)