Thursday, October 8, 2015

Concord Band Begins 57th Season with "Mystical Moments"

Join the Concord Band as we celebrate our 57th season, presenting both old gems and new works for symphonic concert band. We embark on our 2015-2016 season voyage with a program that presents a wide range of original compositions and arrangements for band, by composers born between 1865 and 1932. The program includes original works from the symphonic wind ensemble repertoire and arrangements of orchestral masterpieces.

Our Fall Concert, Mystical Moments, will be presented at 51 Walden, Concord’s Performing Arts Center, on Saturday, October 24, 2015, at 8:00 PM. The concert features music with programmatic undertones penned by American and international composers, and traverses a series of mysterious and magical musical episodes.

Old Churches is one of many original works by American-born composer Michael Colgrass, and is based on early church music known as Gregorian Chant. This mysterious monastic scene employs moments of aleatoric chance techniques (pitches played without rhythm at each player’s discretion) and unison call and response chant melodies.

Prelude and Dance of the Mystic Flames is a setting for band by William E. Rhoads suggested by the piano preludes of Alexander Scriabin. Paying a nod to Scriabin’s interest in mysticism, the arrangement for band captures the lush and complex harmonic sonorities and dissonant musical system of the original Scriabin piano preludes, opening with a slow and majestic Andante, and concluding with a brisk and furious Allegro.

German-born composer Carl Orff is widely known not only for his musical output, but also for his internationally-recognized and revolutionary music education method that continues to be employed by music educators around the globe. In the original score of Carmina Burana, one of the most exciting works of the 20th century, the subtitle reads “Profane songs for singers and vocal chorus with instruments and magical pictures”. John Krance’s arrangement for band fully incorporates the vocal parts into the concert band instrumentation and authentically preserves the emotional and musical intent of the original orchestral/ vocal setting. Originally consisting of twenty- five sections, this arrangement includes thirteen, about which Krance writes, “The work begins and ends depicting the crushing anguish of the victims of Fortune’s ruthless wheel (O Fortuna, Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi); the remaining sections are devoted to the joys of spring and nature, the pleasures of the tavern and the gaming table, the delights of love, the irony of fate”.

Among his countless marches, the instrumentation of John Philip Sousa’s Nobles of the Mystic Shrine is unique, as it includes harp, triangle, and tambourine. The inclusion of these non-traditional marching band instruments provides a setting, texture, and style derived from the clanking and chiming Turkish music associated with the Shriners, previously known as the “Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine”. Also unique is the musical form— an introduction and first strain set in Bb minor, unusual for the majority of Sousa’s marches. Sousa was a Shriner and member of the Temple Almas in Washington, D. C., being named the first honorary director of the Temple Shrine Band in 1922.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (which is set in a musical form known as a scherzo [joke]) by Paul Dukas is widely recognized thanks to the Disney animated film classic, Fantasia, in which Mickey Mouse plays the title role. A highly programmatic and challenging work arranged for band by Mark Hindsley, the arrangement places much of the difficult orchestral violin and viola writing in the band flute, oboe and clarinet parts. The work captures the magic of the sorcerer’s apprentice casting his master’s magical spell on the broomstick to bring water from the well, leading to a tidal flooding and furious conclusion.

The title of John Barnes Chance’s Incantation and Dance may conjure images of religious association, but it is purely a work of mystery and imagination, ending with ferocious syncopations, fast and wild woodwind flourishes, and driving brass and percussion exchanges. [see related article]

"Chernomor’s March" is from Mikhail Glinka’s setting of the 1842 opera, Ruslan and Lyudmila, in which Chernomor is an old dwarf with a long white beard who is also an evil sorcerer. Arranged for symphonic wind ensemble by Concord Band clarinetist Jerry Vabulas, the march portrays an individual (Chernomor) and his profound sense of self-importance. Beginning with a pompous opening motive that repeats many times, each restatement says the same thing over and over, just a little louder each time.

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