Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review: Winter Concert "New and Blue"

On March 5, 2011 I had the pleasure of attending the Concord Band Winter Concert, “New and Blue.” The Concord Band played a variety of lush and dramatic music, loosely tied together with a “blue” theme, under the direction of James O’Dell and Steven Barbas. The sound was polished and the audience seemed riveted with the selections, from the blue notes in “Three Jazz Moods” and Porgy and Bess to the Blue Seas in Vaughan Williams’ “Sea Songs.”

Fruitlands Overture premiered last summer for the 25th anniversary of the Band’s summer performances at Fruitlands Museums, and it opened this program. Composer Bill McManus was Music Director of the Concord Band for fifteen of those years. In his spirited overture, he pays homage to the diversity of music performed there. He includes a samba rhythm, a swing section, jazz harmonies and blue notes, as well as trumpet and saxophone solos, often featured with the band. The tempo at the end of the overture accelerates, and anyone who has been to a Fruitlands concert can tell you why: the mosquitoes! As the sun goes down, there is a mad dash to grab your instrument or picnic blanket, and retreat to your car’s safety!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Assistant Conductor Steven Barbas

Steven Barbas
Assistant Conductor
Steven Barbas is a music specialist at Waltham High School, where he conducts the Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, and Pep Band. He also teaches Music Theory and Technology, Sound Recording, and directs the Middle School Honor Band. He received the Master of Music degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where he studied with Mallory Thompson. He previously earned the Bachelor of Music degree summa cum laude in Music Education and Clarinet Performance from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Prior to working in Waltham, Mr. Barbas was director of bands in Bedford, MA. Under his direction, the Bedford High School Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band consistently received Superior and Excellent ratings at festivals. He has conducted and played in countless pit orchestras and has appeared onstage in several community theatre productions. He has served as a cantor in several parishes in the Boston area and has written and arranged a number of compositions for liturgical use. Mr. Barbas has been a member of the Concord Band since 2004, and is very excited to be working with the Band as Assistant Conductor.

2011 Winter Concert

New and Blue

Saturday, March 5, 2011 

The Concord Band 

James O’Dell, Music Director 
Steven Barbas, Assistant Conductor


Steven Barbas conducting
Fruitlands OvertureDr. William G. McManus
James O’Dell Conducting
Selections from Porgy and BessGeorge Gershwin; arr. Bennett
Twilight of the GodsAndrew Boysen, Jr.
Massachusetts première, commissioned by a consortium
organized by the Western and Northwestern Divisions of
the College Band Directors National Association, including the Concord Band


Firework!Jan Van der Roost
Sea SongsRalph Vaughan Williams
Three Jazz MoodsJohn Lewis; arr. Phillips
ColoursRoger Cichy
  1. Amber
  2. Dark Jade
  3. Blue Sapphire
  4. Mauve
  5. Dark Ivy

Read all notes for this program...

Selections from Porgy and Bess

George Gershwin’s folk opera Porgy and Bess was first performed by the Theater Guild in Boston and New York in 1935 and its revival in 1942 enjoyed the longest run of any revival in Broadway musical history at that time. Selections from Porgy and Bess for Concert Band was arranged by master musical theater arranger and American composer Robert Russell Bennett. Bennett is credited with creating the “Broadway sound” recognized throughout the world, orchestrating over 200 Broadway shows spanning three decades. (Source: JRO)

Fruitlands Overture

Fruitlands Overture by Dr. William G. McManus (Concord Band Music Director Emeritus) was written for the Concord Band in celebration of its 25th anniversary season of summer concerts at Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Massachusetts. Opening with an exciting fanfare and including a variety of different styles from symphonic band music to jazz, this lively mixed-meter overture captures the festive outdoor flavor of the Concord Band’s long-standing summer series at the Museum. The repeating descending ostinato in the slow middle section depicts the setting sun which occurs during each Fruitlands concert. The overture was premiered on June 30, 2010, at the Silver Anniversary concert at Fruitlands, with Dr. McManus conducting. (Source: JRO)

Twilight of the Gods

Twilight of the Gods is a programmatic work depicting the story of Ragnarok from Scandinavian mythology. The 2010 commission consortium, with 26 university and community bands, was organized by the Western and Northwestern divisions of the College Band Directors National Association. University of New Hampshire professor and composer Andrew Boysen Jr. created this exciting and dynamic piece for symphonic band. The story starts with a relentless winter leading to a series of civil wars across the earth, and concluding with a great battle between the gods and their adversaries, resulting in their deaths and the destruction of the earth. The earth then rises once more, new gods take control of the heavens, and the human race is born again through two survivors. (Source: JRO)


Jan Van der Roost is internationally known as a seasoned, prolific Dutch composer of contemporary concert band works. His vast compositional output encompasses a wide variety of musical genres and styles. This short and exciting fanfare reflects the power and virtuosity of the modern concert band. Opening with woodwind and brass sections alternating introductory material, the work quickly launches into a short, joyful theme and resulting harmonic conversations. The beautiful bass drum punctuates the ending of this work. (Source: JRO)

Sea Songs

Sea Songs is one of the simpler works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and was written for British military band in 1924. The composer loved the folk song heritage of his native land. He also knew the English sailing songs and he used three in Sea Songs: “Princess Royal,” “Admiral Benbow,” and “Portsmouth.” The form is ABCA, and the scoring is direct. (Source: Band Music Notes, Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire)


Colours by Roger Cichy was commissioned by the Kansas State University Bands, written in 1997, and premiered on May 10 of that year, with the composer conducting at KSU. Each of the six movements (Amber, Dark Jade, Blue Sapphire, Mauve, Dark Ivy, and Burgundy Red) go beyond the color itself, deeply delving into the symbolic meaning and “musical” pigment of each color. Each movement creates an impression of the color itself. Several movements employ jazz style, inflection, and harmony. Roger Cichy was guest conductor and commissioned composer for the 50th anniversary Concord Band celebration in 2009, conducting his outstanding commission Flowing Pens from Concord. (Source: JRO)

Three Jazz Moods

Three Jazz Moods is based on Three Little Feelings by Modern Jazz Quartet music director and pianist John Lewis. Notable composer and conductor Gunther Schuller served as president of the New England Conservatory of Music from 1967-1977, and in the late 1950’s coined the term “Third Stream Music” to describe the fusion or synthesis of classical and jazz music. This work reflects the colors, sonorities, and feel of the music of composer/pianist Gil Evans and his musical collaborations with Miles Davis and “Birth of the Cool” sessions in the mid 1950’s. (Source: JRO)