Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guest Artist Spotlight: Amanda Carr

Guest Artist Amanda Carr
Having emerged as the consummate entertainer, Amanda Carr is a multi-styled vocalist/pianist that began early on in her teens and 20’s in the rock and pop genre, but using this influence has, in recent years, focused on fresh interpretations of the Great American Songbook.  For over three decades she’s performed and recorded both in the U.S. and abroad. She’s received critical acclaim from a tough bevy of reviewers. Her 2005 recording, “Tender Trap” debuted by charting nationally in the top 50 and received 4-stars from All Music Guide. Her follow-up national release in 2007 was a feature story by respected jazz journalist, Nat Hentoff, in The Wall Street Journal which catapulted her to global exposure as he hailed her, “...a true jazz singer in a time of wannabes”. (She’s also featured in Hentoff’s book, At the Jazz Band Ball: 60 Years on the Jazz Scene 2010-University of California Press.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rotary Club's 'Click to Care' Auction

For 37 years the Rotary Club of Concord has sponsored a Pops Concert featuring the Concord Band. The event is one of Rotary’s major fundraisers and has been the site of a silent auction to benefit Rotary’s international and local causes. Now, in its 38th year, the Rotary Pops has expanded their fundraising online auction, open to the public prior to the April 12 concert.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review: Winter Concert "Rhapsody in Blue"

I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful concert at The Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden in Concord. The Concord Band performed “Rhapsody in Blue: Made in America,” their annual Winter Concert under the direction of James O’Dell. The featured piano soloist was Michael Lewin, a talented, enthusiastic professor of piano at Boston Conservatory.

To a nearly sold-out crowd, O’Dell stepped on stage, and the music began immediately. To me, this is the correct way to begin a concert. Many community groups will begin with announcements about future programs, or housekeeping issues, or with biographical information about the composer whose music the audience is looking forward to hearing. The Concord Band skipped all of this and brought us directly to the reason we had come: to hear the blended, contrasting, unique and diverse sounds.

The intonation and tone quality proved excellent from the start. Americans We is one of Henry Fillmore’s more famous marches, featuring a trumpet trio that sparkled with crisp tonguing and excellent balance. When the woodwinds added their filigree in the subsequent repetitions of the main theme, they did so with sparkle and panache. The conductor remained understated and clear, and the respect his musicians have for him is quite apparent.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Meet the French Horn Section

The double horn

The Intrument

Interestingly, the French horn is actually German in origin. In addition, is really two instruments in one. In 1971, it had its name officially changed to simply horn by the International Horn Society.
The horn is a brass instrument made of about 12-13 feet (3.7-4.0 meters) of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. Pitch is controlled through the adjustment of lip tension in the mouthpiece and the operation of valves by the left hand, which route the air into extra tubing.
Most horns have lever-operated rotary valves. The double horn (the most common type) has three rotary valves and a fourth valve, usually operated by the thumb, which routes the air to one set of tubing tuned to F or another tuned to Bb.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Suite of Old American Dances

The music of Robert Russell Bennett (1894–1980) has had a monumental influence on American music and composers, and his orchestrations of more than 200 musicals established his distinctive and unique “Broadway sound” that is recognized worldwide. One of his original compositions for concert band, composed in 1949, is Suite of Old American Dances. The five movements are chock full of syncopated rhythms, sonorous and rich harmonies, and they superbly represent the undeniable American sound of the composer. (Source: JRO)

“Described by trade ads of the time as capturing the festive character and mood of a traditional Saturday night barn dance, the movements are more accurately social dances from Bennett’s Kansas City days at Electric Park and decidedly not rural in nature.” (Source: George Ferencz and Wikipedia)

Children’s March, “Over the Hills and Far Away”

Percy Grainger (1882–1961) was born in Brighton, Australia, and came to America in 1915 as a recognized pianist and a leading interpreter of the Grieg Concerto. His distinctive orchestrations and use of instrument timbre (tone color), specifically in the larger lower reeds (bassoon, bass clarinet, tenor and baritone saxophone), are clearly evident in Children’s March, “Over the Hills and Far Away.” This light-hearted and fanciful march was one of the first works for concert band to include piano as an integral part of the orchestration. The tune is first introduced by the bassoon and baritone saxophone, and progresses through a series of instruments and orchestrations, punctuated by rhythmic articulations and abrupt dynamic treatments. (Source: JRO)

2013 Winter Concert

Rhapsody in Blue

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Concord Band

James O’Dell, Music Director
Steven Barbas, Assistant Conductor
Michael Lewin, Piano Soloist


Americans WeHenry Fillmore; ed. Fennell
Suite of Old American DancesRobert Russell Bennett
  1. Cake Walk
  2. Schottische
  3. Western One-Step
  4. Wallflower Waltz
  5. Rag
Children’s MarchPercy Aldridge Grainger; rev. Erickson
Variations on ‘America’Charles Ives; trans. Rhoads and Schuman
Michael Lewin, piano


Célèbre TarantelleLouis Moreau Gottschalk; arr. Birch
Combination MarchScott Joplin; arr. Schuller
Rhapsody in BlueGeorge Gershwin; arr. Grofé and Verrier
Michael Lewin, piano

Read all notes for this program...

Americans We

Henry Fillmore (1881–1956) had problems deciding on a title for this march. His band was giving a series of concerts at the local zoo so he would introduce the new work as The Cincinnati Zoo one day and Pure Food and Health the next! Finally, realizing that it was probably his finest march, he published it in 1929 as Americans We and dedicated it “to all of us.” Noting the exuberance in this march, Paul Yoder reminisced recently that Fillmore had once told him that he wrote music “to make people happy.” [Information from Paul Yoder] (Source: March Music Notes, Norman E. Smith)

Variations on ‘America’

Variations on ‘America’ is a witty, irreverent piece originally for organ by Charles Ives (1874–1954), composed in 1891. According to Ives’ biographers, Henry and Sidney Cowell, it was played by Ives in organ recitals in Danbury, CT and in Brewster, NY, in the same year. His father would not let him play some of the pages at the Brewster concert because they had canons in two and three keys at once that proved to be unsuited to performance in church; they made the boys “laugh out and get noisy.” This is Ives’ earliest surviving piece using polytonality. William Schuman wrote a remarkably effective orchestra transcription of the work in 1964 and it is on this version that William Rhoads based his equally effective band transcription. [Franko Colombo Publications] (Source: Band Music Notes, Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire.)

Célèbre Tarantelle

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829–1869) was among the first American composers and performers to gain international recognition. Many contemporary musicians and concertgoers question the musical integrity of his composition, but few doubt the brilliance of his technique and the emotional effect of his playing. A highly gifted piano virtuoso, Gottschalk adopted many mannerisms of Franz Liszt and was highly acclaimed in Europe, South America, and the United States before Lincoln was elected President. During most of the American Civil War, he lived with his mother and younger brothers and sisters in Paris, where his home became a mecca for the musicians, writers, and authors of the time. Célèbre Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra (arranged for piano and concert band by Sebastian Anthony Birch) is a lively, energetic Italian dance in 6/8 time, and features fast and furious galloping passages encompassing the piano’s uniquely wide range. (Source: Band Music Notes, Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire and JRO.)

Combination March

Combination March was the second published march (1896) by composer Scott Joplin (1868–1917) and is one of his earliest works. The meaning of “combination” is unknown. Gunther Schuller orchestrated the March in the early 1970's for concert band, and captured the light- ness and spirit of the composer’s early works for piano. One of Joplin’s most famous pieces, Maple Leaf Rag, was published in 1899 and was followed over the next two decades by more than 50 rags and other compositions, including two operas. (Source: JRO)

Rhapsody in Blue

One of the most widely performed works for piano and instrumental ensemble is Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin (1898–1927). Written in 1924 and premiered on February 12 of that year by the Paul Whiteman orchestra with Gershwin on piano, the work was orchestrated by the fa-mous arranger Ferde Grofé. The original orchestration was scored for Whiteman’s 24-piece band plus violins, and was later orchestrated by Grofé for larger ensembles. In 1928 Grofé scored it for concert band but the published version required substantial editing and contained many errors and re-harmonization not true to the original version. Thomas Ver- rier (then with the California State University system, now at Vanderbilt University), set this accompaniment, constructing it from authentic original resources, archived materials and manuscripts. (Source: JRO)