Monday, December 11, 2017

The Baton of Death

—by Julie Ann Giroux

I collect antique conducting batons. Some are purely decorative, ceremonial or commemorative. Occasionally I find one that actually may be usable. I bought this particular baton hoping to use it. Good length, 13", didn't look to be a bad baton in general. Truth be told, this silver handled and tipped weapon of mass destruction turned out to have been sired by Satan himself. Never has there been a piece of wood more cursed or feared.

The Baton of Death
It is very slick and offers no point or area for secure grasp. I dropped it twice just getting it from my briefcase to the podium. The rehearsal room was hot, like 90 degrees hot, thermostat set for real winter cold but instead frying its participants in their own globally warmed juices. An hour into rehearsal, the baton took flight on a vigorous up beat, successfully destroying an expensive overhead stage light with a red lens cover. The area behind me was showered with red crystals, bringing to mind the High School Gym Scene from the movie Carrie. (‘They are all gonna laugh at you!’ Why yes, yes they did.) I continued to use it...

It is black and hard to see, only giving slight whispers of leadership from its tiny, unpolished solid silver tip. My beat became more implied than factual; a rarity, in today's climate, an alternative fact. Beat patterns were in step with Big Foot as he walked across the film footage; questionable as to its authenticity. It slipped beneath the waters of precision like the Loch Ness Monster, forcing many to question whether they had actually seen something or not. Reports of clear beat patterns became as rare as UFO sightings but less reliable. Cues were almost mythical. I stubbornly continued to use it...

The weight of the baton is extremely heavy for its size. If it were made of petrified wood it would be lighter than this. The solid silver tip and handle add weight, yes, but not that much. An over exuberant beat 3 of a 4 beat pattern sent the black missile off stage right with tremendous velocity and strength, successfully launching out of the sweaty, greasy, menopausal, perpetually hot flashed hand (mine), striking a lectern microphone out of its cradle which loudly bounced on, then off, the lectern, striking the floor with huge thud, then rolling off the end of the stage, meeting its demise on the cold, concrete floor with a sad clink. (Talk about ‘drop the mic…’) Damn it! I paid a fortune for this civil war period baton and I'm going to use it.

Concert—8:00. Formal Dress—The Black Baton with the Solid Silver Tip— Fear, Apprehension and Cause for Alarm —Final piece on the Program—hell of my own creation—VI. ‘Hakone Pass’, Book marks from Japan, 200+ Odd Meters at Tempi Di TearAss.

Seventy plus measures in, Satan's Stick launched on its final mission into space straight at a percussionist holding a chime mallet. Quick to react, he leaned backwards, knocking over a suspended cymbal as the Baton whizzed by him. Like the slow motion scene with Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, I watched with horror as it narrowly missed the percussionist and hit the gong dead nipple center, creating a resounding gong crash. Thanks to the speed of the piece, both the Suspended Cymbal falling to the ground and the gong crash fell on musical pulses and neither stood out as unusual occurrences. I was forced to finish out the finale using my index finger as a baton, though had the band chosen, it would have been my middle finger because we did just fine without the baton. Up yours, Silver-Tipped Weapon of Mass Destruction.

The Civil War era Black Baton with the solid silver handle and tip now permanently resides with the other ‘unusable’ Batons in my collection and like a battle returned veteran has a respected spot up front. I give it wide berth as I pass it. I am certain that place in my house is cooler than it should be. I feel eyes on my back when I leave the room as The Black Baton with the Silver Tip & Handle whispers ‘Petrificus Totalus’. This is what happens when you mistake a Wand for a Baton.

Julie Giroux, one of the finest and most prolific composers of music for wind ensemble, was born in Massachusetts, but by the time she graduated from high school, she was already a southerner, and studied music at LSU. Concord Band audiences have heard a number of her works, including Boston Liberties, commissioned by the Concord Band in 2009 and performed again last season. This brief story exposes a humorous facet of Julie that audiences may not get to see. It originally appeared as a Facebook posting earlier this year. Reprinted with permission.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Holiday Pops!

2017 Holiday Pops Concert Poster
Join The Concord Band for one of two "Holiday Pops" Concerts, as its celebrates the holiday season with traditional tunes and contemporary concert band music.
For Pops reservations:
  • On line: Visit, click on the “Select Performance” button and select the date that you want. Note that there is no surcharge for purchasing your tickets online, so we are encouraging you to take advantage of this service.
  • Send email to Concord Band Reservations. Be sure to specify how many tickets and which night, and include your name, email address and phone number for confirmation.
  • Leave a voice message at 978-897-9969. Be sure to specify how many tickets and which night, and leave your name and phone number for confirmation.
  • Send a check in the amount of $25 per ticket ($15 for children under 12), made out to “The Concord Band”, to Holiday Pops, Box 302, Concord, MA 01742. Be sure to specify which night, include your phone number for confirmation, and enclose an SASE if you would like the tickets mailed to you rather than picking them up at the concert.
If you place your reservations by phone or email, you MUST still mail a check in order to hold the seats. You may also include an SASE in order to receive your tickets before the night of the concert. Any unpaid tickets will be subject to re-sale at the door on the night of the concert.

Note: If this concert is snowed out, it will be rescheduled for 2:00 pm on Sunday afternoon, December 10.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Songs and Dances

Concord Band Fall Concert

October 21, 2017 

Review by Gretchen C. D’Andrea
Music Teacher, Whitin Elementary School

Concord Band’s Songs and Dances was a musical banquet of riches. Maestro James O’Dell, the wind ensemble’s director, confidently adapted to the demands of a stylistically ambitious program. The musicians were excellent. It’s a shame all seats weren’t filled.

John Rabinowitz
alto saxophone
Saucedo’s optimistic Song and Dance was first. A buoyant theme hinted at positive possibilities. It surrendered to sassy sixties-style syncopation, ending joyously with a return to the expansive theme.

Latham’s Court Festival, well suited to the acoustics of Concord’s 51 Walden, was a modern take on antiphonal Renaissance music, with conversations between brass and woodwinds. A tart little piccolo solo danced. Dynamic changes were difficult then, but no problem for today’s instruments.

In an arrangement of Debussy’s The Girl with the Flaxen Hair, expressive saxophone soloist, John Rabinowitz, played beautifully. After the ensemble entered, the tempo moved too quickly. Delicious crescendos needed more time to develop, and felt overwhelming in the space. Nonetheless, Debussy’s unique musical tapestry was a treat.

Gilmore’s intriguing Five Folk Songs involve characters ‘dancing’ to the tunes of various constructs of society; war, the cotton industry, villagers, beauty and music. This selection was the evening’s highlight; perfect for this ensemble.

Alyssa Becker
Balance, blend and timing are crucial elements in an ensemble. O’Dell’s skill insured instrumentation didn’t obscure text.

Alyssa Becker’s smooth mezzo-soprano coaxed lyric to life. Becker’s spinning tone, lovely on sustained notes, displayed excellent control in a hummed coda on "All the Pretty Little Horses". Use of blues in descending melodic pattern was a striking reminder of people’s plight. Clarinet solos were clean, supple; akin to vocals; oboe incandescent. A triangle sparkled brightly. Though flutes were together, "Mrs. McGrath"’s cheerful intro lacked cohesion and dragged slightly in places, yet ironic juxtaposition of text and tune was evident. At its conclusion, a slower version of the theme might better mirror the song’s mood change. "El Burro," a plaintive flute solo on unique ebony instrument was lovely.

Superfluous Havendance was possessed of frenetic, exciting charm.

Programmed last, Cajun Folk Songs was the band’s ‘Heartbreak Hill’. A solo saxophone sang true, and gorgeous themes emerged, but concentration faded, and minor intonation issues resulted. The low brass section provided anchors; centering pitch.

Cantus was entrancing-from wind chime opening to resonant conclusion. Shimmery chord changes lent an otherworldly feel; ocean background track provided a gentle wash of sound. Large moments did not overwhelm, and a sense of peace pervaded.

Audiences never tire of Copland. Players seemed to enjoy it too, for everything was tight. The trumpet solo was crisp perfection. I wish this selection was programmed last, as a joyous bookend to the Saucedo.

This community band is a treasure, providing connections in our insular world. Stravinsky said, “I haven’t understood a bar of music in my life, but I felt it.” When ensembles that are led with care play with thought and passion, music’s artistic mission is fulfilled, and we are moved.

Gretchen C. D’Andrea holds a Masters in Arts in Teaching Degree and a Bachelor of Music Performance degree in flute. Over many years, Gretchen has produced and directed musicals in both public and private school settings. Currently, Gretchen directs band and chorus, and teaches general music in Uxbridge, MA. She plays flute in the East Woodstock Community Band and loves to read in her spare time.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Songs and Dances" Concert Videos

One of the Band's long-term projects is to create a comprehensive video archive of concert band literature. The archive documents our performances, helps us to improve musically, and provides a valuable online resource for band programming. You can explore performance videos hosted on our YouTube channel, ConcordBandMA.

The Performance Video Database concept has been created and led by percussionist and executive producer Dan Diamond, and video director Barry Mirrer, with generous technical assistance and resources provided by Concord-Carlisle TV. See feature articles: Performance Video DatabaseVideo Production.

The complete Concord Band Performance Video Database is accessible through a tab at the top of each blog page. You can play a video or view program notes by selecting links in the excerpt shown here.

Songs and Dances
Saturday, October 21, 2017
The Concord Band
James O’Dell Conducting

Song and DanceRichard L. Saucedo
Court FestivaWilliam P. Latham
The Girl with the Flaxen HairClaude Debussy;
arr. Moss
John Rabinowitz,
alto saxophone
Five Folk Songs for Soprano and Wind BandBernard GilmoreAlyssa Becker,
HavendanceDavid R. Holsinger
Cantus (Song of Night)Thomas Doss
Old American SongsAaron Copland;
arr. Moss

Cajun Folk SongsFrank Ticheli

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fall Concert

Songs and Dances

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Concord Band

James O’Dell, Music Director 


Song and DanceRichard L. Saucedo
Court FestivalWilliam P. Latham
  1. Intrada
  2. Pavan
  3. Galliard
  4. “The Horses” Branle
The Girl with the Flaxen HairClaude Debussy; arr. Moss
John Rabinowitz, Alto Saxophone Soloist
Five Folk Songs for Soprano and Wind BandBernard Gilmore
  1. Mrs. McGrath (Irish)
  2. All the Pretty Little Horses (American)
  3. Yerakina (Greek)
  4. El Burro (Spanish)
  5. A Fidler (Yiddish)
Alyssa Becker, Mezzo-Soprano Soloist


HavendanceDavid R. Holsinger
Cantus (Song of Night)Thomas Doss
Old American SongsAaron Copland; arr. Moss
  1. The Golden Willow Tree
  2. Simple Gifts
  3. Ching-A-Ring Chaw
Cajun Folk SongsFrank Ticheli
  1. La Belle et le Capitaine
  2. Belle
View notes for this program...

Song and Dance

Song and Dance by Richard L. Saucedo begins by taking the form of a traditional fanfare/overture. Where the “dance” section of the piece begins is very obvious, due to the simple woodblock part. The dance section offers solo and soli opportunities for clarinet, flute, and bassoon. (Source: published score)

Court Festival

William P. Latham’s Court Festival is a suite in the style of instrumental dance music of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, used at various European court festivals and other ceremonies.  The “Intrada” (literally entrance) is an opening piece of festive or march-like character. The “Pavan” is a stately dance in duple meter; the “Galliard” is a gay dance in triple meter.  The “Branle” was a very popular 16th century dance. It was danced everywhere—in the country and in the courts—and included singing, swaying movements of the body and the hands, and pantomime. (Source: published score)

The Girl With The Flaxen Hair

Claude Debussy wrote two sets of preludes between 1910 and 1913. The best of them are among the finest miniatures in piano literature. Each prelude is relatively short in duration, free in form and has the character of an improvisation. A true musical gem in the collection is The Girl With The Flaxen Hair, which was likely inspired by a work by mid-century French poet, Leconte de Lisle. Evocative and enchanting, the melody of this piece is one of Debussy’s most exquisite. (Source: published score)

Five Folk Songs for Soprano and Wind Band

Five Folk Songs for Soprano and Wind Band was written in 1966 by Bernard Gilmore and cited as the best original composition at the 1967 College Band Directors National Association annual conference. It was inspired by folk recordings of Theodore Bikel and groups like the Limelighters. The bouncy opening Irish tune, “Mrs. McGrath,” is an ironic commentary on the horrors of war. “All the Pretty Little Horses” is a lullaby featuring a solo clarinet. “Yerakina” suggests a traditional Greek dance through the usage of slow, rhythmic ostinato and tonic pedal. “El Burro” depicts the tragic death of an animal important to a village through a mournful and processional dirge. “A Fidler” is a humorous and playful Yiddish tune depicting a young musician's first violin lesson and his mother's dream of him becoming a great virtuoso. (Source: published score and Wikipedia)


David Holsinger’s first child, his daughter Haven, was the inspiration for his 1983 composition Havendance. Its driving rhythms represent the energy of an eight year old, who was constantly dancing and twirling around the house, dreaming of being a ballerina. The composition undergoes several variations in style, but it is always filled with energy. Some passages evoke the image of a single dancer, with solo pirouettes and leaps; these light efforts grow to draw in the full dance company with an unrelenting, underlying rhythm. (Source: David Bruce Adams)


Cantus is the Latin word for song—and so this Thomas Doss piece is a meditation set to music in a vocal, melodious way. It should motivate to turn one's gaze inward, to switch off and let oneself be carried away by the music, to find an inner rest that opens up a window to the “Self.” The pictures and thoughts that are rising in this meditation can be of events, landscapes, life, or people we have close relationships with. (Source: published score)

Old American Songs

Aaron Copland arranged his second set of Old American Songs for piano and voice, drawing on American folk tunes as the source material. “The Golden Willow Tree” is an Anglo-American ballad known as “The Golden Vanity,” a melody used by English composer Benjamin Britten. “Simple Gifts” is a Shaker song written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett. Copland used the melody for the score of Martha Graham's ballet Appalachian Spring. The raucous and lively minstrel song “Ching-A-Ring Chaw” was originally arranged for mixed chorus by Irving Fine. The band arrangement by John Moss superbly captures the simple beauty of Copland’s American setting. (Source: JRO)

Cajun Folk Songs

Cajuns are descendants of the Acadians, a group of early French colonists who began settling in Acadia (now Nova Scotia) around 1604. In 1755 they were driven out by the British, eventually resettling in South Louisiana. Cajun Folk Songs was composed by Frank Ticheli as a tribute to the people of the old Cajun folksong culture. “La Belle et le Capitaine” tells the story of a young girl who feigns death to avoid being seduced by a captain. “Belle” is about a man who goes to Texas only to receive word of his sweetheart’s illness. Finding her unconscious upon his return to Louisiana, he pawns his horse to try to save her, to no avail. (Source: Composer)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Songs & Dances

2017 Fall Concert Poster

The Concord Band’s 59th Season begins Saturday, October 21st

Join the Concord Band as it begins its 59th year of music-making, continuing a multiple seasons-long exploration of some of the great works for symphonic concert band. The Band’s Fall Concert, Songs and Dances, will be presented at the Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden Street in Concord, MA, on Saturday, October 21, 2017, at 8:00 PM. Admission is free; contributions are greatly appreciated. The 2017–2018 season begins by featuring two outstanding soloists, Concord Band alto saxophonist John Rabinowitz, and Boston Conservatory at Berklee graduate student, mezzo-soprano Alyssa Becker.

Song and Dance* by Richard L. Saucedo is a type of fanfare/overture that begins with an obvious dance rhythm but quickly transforms to a non-traditional dance feel and mood, somewhat “tongue in cheek” in nature.

John Rabinowitz
alto saxophone
Claude Debussy’s musical gem The Girl With The Flaxen Hair showcases the beautiful timbre (tone color) of the alto saxophone performed by Concord Band soloist John Rabinowitz in a lush and quasi-improvisational harmonic setting by John Moss.

Court Festival* by William P. Latham is written in the form and style of 16th- and 17th-century instrumental dance music. The four-movement suite includes “Intrada”, “Pavan”, “Galliard”, and “The Horses’ Branle”.

Cantus is the Latin word for song, and this unique work Cantus (Song of Night)*, with prepared CD accompaniment by composer Thomas Doss, presents a melodious, vocal-like meditative mood and character.
Alyssa Becker

Five Folk Songs for Soprano and Band* by Bernard Gilmore was cited as “Best Original Composition” at the 1967 College Band Directors Conference”. Mezzo-soprano soloist Alyssa Becker joins the Concord Band in presenting this setting featuring five movements representing Irish, American, Greek, Spanish, and Yiddish folk songs.

American composer David R. Holsinger wrote Havendance for his daughter, Haven, with the intention of capturing the spirit, energy, and enthusiasm of the 8- year-old as she whirled, twirled, danced, and dreamed of becoming a ballerina.

Old American Songs presents four traditional songs, originally arranged by Aaron Copland for orchestra, in a concert-band setting by John Moss. The songs include “The Little Horses”, “The Golden Willow Tree”, “Simple Gifts”, and “Ching-A-Ring Chaw.”

Prolific American composer Frank Ticheli has written more than eighty works for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, and concert band/wind ensemble. His jazz-influenced composition Blue Shades was a featured work on the 2017 Concord Band Winter Concert. Cajun Folk Songs pays tribute to the people of the old Cajun culture in two movements, the first flowing and lyrical, the second lively and full of mixed meters.

*Concord Band premier performance

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Spotlight: Guest Artist Alyssa Becker

photo by Ryan Towe Photography
Alyssa Becker
Mezzo-soprano, Alyssa Becker, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, graduated cum laude from Drake University in 2016 with her Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance. Currently Ms. Becker is a second year Master of Music in Vocal Pedagogy student at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee under the tutelage of Kathryn Wright. She also serves as adjunct voice faculty at the Boston Arts Academy and holds a private studio at Amy Dancz Vocal Studio.

Previously, Ms. Becker has worked with vocal high school programs in the Des Moines area as well as her own home studio. Most recently, Ms. Becker was the mezzo-soprano soloist with The Boston Conservatory at Berklee Conductor’s Choir performing Haydn’s Salve Regina.

Ms. Becker received her Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance under the tutelage of Leanne Freeman-Miller, where she performed Mrs. Gibbs (understudy) and chorus in Ned Rorem’s Our Town, Meg in Verdi’s Falstaff, and Marcellina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.

In 2015, Ms. Becker traveled to Bejing, China, to perform at Minzu University. She participated in opera scenes including Lakme (Mallika), Die Zauberflöte (3rd Lady), and La Clemenza di Tito (Annio).

Ms. Becker is a two-time state winner of the Music Teachers National Association competition in Iowa and in 2015 placed second in the West Central Division regional competition. At the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition, Ms. Becker has received honorable mention, been a two-year semifinalist, and placed third.

Spotlight: Saxophone Soloist John Rabinowitz

John Rabinowitz
John Rabinowitz, who has played alto saxophone with the Concord Band since 2012, has studied instrumental performance extensively in the Boston area. He studied classical saxophone with Ken Radnofsky at the Longy School and the New England Conservatory, and jazz technique with Mark Phaneuf at the New School of Music in Cambridge. John also studied classical piano at the Longy School with Betty Roberts, Elise Jackendoff and Lyubov Schlain.

In addition to his ongoing participation in the Concord Band, John is a founding member of the Area 9 Quartet, an ensemble dedicated to exploring the rich, diverse and ever-growing classical saxophone repertoire. Area 9 has performed works by Bach, Glazunov, Creston, Bennett, Debussy, Lateef and Vaughan Williams, as well as world premieres of pieces by contemporary composers Jun Feng and Michael Kosch. The Quartet has significant concert schedules in Cambridge and Manhattan.

John is also a regular performer with Les Messengers de la Nouvelle Alliance, a Haitian reggae gospel band that plays throughout greater Boston. A native of Nutley, New Jersey, John earned a BA in American History from Harvard College. He currently resides in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Friday, September 1, 2017

2017–18 Season Poster

The Concord Band Announces its 2017–18 Concert Season.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Fruitlands Summer Concerts Promotional Video

The Concord Band presents our promotional video that highlights our Summer Concert Series at Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Mass. Please share our video with your friends and neighbors using the social media buttons at the bottom of this post. It's a great way to support the band by building our audience, and your friends and neighbors will be delighted with a family-friendly summer outing!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fruitlands Museum to Host Summer Concerts

7:15 PM, Thursdays, June 22 through July 27

Gather on the lawn for our annual Summer Concert Series and listen to beautiful music performed on Fruitlands’ outdoor stage!

For six weeks in June and July Fruitlands Museum welcomes The Concord Band, a group of 65 musicians from 40 area towns who have been performing since 1959. The Concord Band will treat concert-goers to a fun roster of timeless music, including pieces memorializing historic events, show tunes, patriotic favorites and more.

Bring your blanket, lawn chairs and picnic basket, or purchase food from vendors. While most museum buildings close at 5:00 PM, the Art Gallery will remain open for your enjoyment until 7:00 PM.

Price is $10 per car for Museum Members, $15 per car for general admission. Concert admission includes entry to the Art Gallery until 7pm.

For more information:
Fruitlands Museum
Trustees of the Reservations

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Annual Picnic in the Park Concert

2017 Picnic in the Park Poster

For over 30 years the Town of Concord has celebrated our nation’s Independence Day with a daylong event, 11:30 am to 4:30 pm, Picnic In the Park. All are invited to the Emerson Field for 2017 Fourth of July festivities that include all day music, many kinds of food supplied by Concord non-profit organizations and activities for all ages.

Picnic in the Park is a wonderful celebration: it starts with a ride in a hot air balloon & bike parade, has food and apple pie, jewelry sale, music, and all sorts of activities for all ages.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Summer Concert Series at Fruitlands Museum

2017 Fruitlands Summer Concert Series Poster

Monday, May 29, 2017

Picnic with the Pops Community Concert in Bolton

This concert has been rescheduled for
Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 5:00 PM.

The Concord Band, led by Music Director James O'Dell, will play for the first time at the Town Common, 723 Main Street, Bolton MA on Sunday, June 4, 2017, starting at 5:00 PM. The "Concert on the Common" is hosted by The Bolton Conservation Trust to thank residents for their support in the recent clean up, development, and purchase of the Town Common reservation.

The Concord Band will play a variety of music from traditional marches and patriotic medleys to music from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Bring blankets, chairs and, of course, your picnic basket. Some refreshments will be sold. Parking is available at the nearby Trinity Church, reserved handicap and/or elderly parking is also available at the Common.

Admission is free. Call The Concord Band hotline (978-897-9969) by 3 PM on Sunday if weather is threatening.


  • Fruitlands 25 Fanfare, by William G. McManus
  • Star Spangled Banner, arr. B. Moffit
  • National Emblem March, by E.E. Bagley, arr. F. Fennell
  • Themes Like Old Times, arr. W. Barker
  • The Rakes of Mallow, by Leroy Anderson
  • Irving Berlin's Songs for America, by Irving Berlin, arr. J. Swearington
  • Swing's The Thing, arr. W. Barker
  • Cheerio March, by Edwin Franko Goldman, arr. F. Erickson
  • The Homefront, arr. J. Christensen
  • Seventy Six Trombones, by Meredith Willson, arr. L. Anderson & J. Bocook
  • Symphonic Highlights from 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End', by Hans Zimmer, arr. J. Bocook
  • Spirit of America, arr. Dean Smith
  • Dixieland on Stage, arr. B. Lowden
  • Armed Forces Salute, arr. B. Lowden
  • Star Spangled Spectacular, by George M. Cohan, arr. J. Cacavas
  • The Stars and Stripes Forever, by John Philip Sousa, arr. W. Revelli

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Boston Festival of Bands 2017 Poster

Boston Festival of Bands 2017
Poster by MetWinds

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Concord Band Invited to Perform at Boston Festival of Bands

The Concord Band performing during the 2016 Boston Festival of Band at Faneuil Hall, Boston.

The Concord Band is thrilled to have been invited to participate in the day-long 29th annual Boston Festival of Bands, featuring performances, on the hour, by seven of the finest community concert bands from all around New England, on Saturday, June 10, 2017. The prestigious Festival, hosted by the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, features seven bands who will play from 11 AM through 6 PM in the Great Hall of historic Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston,

The day-long event, presenting the most exciting pieces for concert bands, is free. This year's ensembles include:
  • Randolph Community Band, based in Randolph, MA
  • Classic Brass, Southern Connecticut
  • Casco Bay Wind Symphony, Gorham, ME
  • Concord Band, Concord, MA
  • Metropolitan Wind Symphony, Boston, MA (celebrating Lewis Buckley's 10th anniversary as music director of the Met Winds)
  • Middlesex Concert Band, Wakefield, MA
  • Rhode Island Wind Ensemble, Providence, RI
This is the 20th time that The Concord Band has been invited to perfor! The performance time for The Concord Band is 12 noon until 1 PM.


  • Bright-Colored Dances, by Lewis Buckley (in honor of his 10th anniversary as Music Director of the Metropolitan Wind Symphony)
  • Hymn to a Blue Hour, by John Mackey
  • Third Suite, by Robert Jager
  • Fugue a la Gigue, by J.S. Bach, arr. Gustav Holst
  • Variations on a Carnival of Venice, by Jean Baptiste Arban, featuring cornet soloist Richard Given

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"Shades of Blue" Concert Videos

One of the Band's long-term projects is to create a comprehensive video archive of concert band literature. The archive documents our performances, helps us to improve musically, and provides a valuable online resource for band programming. You can explore performance videos hosted on our YouTube channel, ConcordBandMA.

The Performance Video Database concept has been created and led by percussionist and executive producer Dan Diamond, and video director Barry Mirrer, with generous technical assistance and resources provided by Concord-Carlisle TV. See feature articles: Performance Video DatabaseVideo Production.

The complete Concord Band Performance Video Database is accessible through a tab at the top of each blog page. With this post, we're also inaugurating a regular update for videos produced from Concord Band performances. You can play a video or view program notes by selecting links in the excerpt shown here.

Shades of Blue
Saturday, March 4, 2017
The Concord Band
James O’Dell Conducting

An Ellington Portraitarr. Floyd E. Werle
Hymn to a Blue HourJohn Mackey
PersuasionSammy NesticoDavid Southard,
alto saxophone
Blue ShadesFrank Ticheli
RockerGerry Mulliganjazz nonet
Bright-Colored DancesLewis J. Buckley
Blue SterlingWilliam G. McManusDavid Southard,
alto saxophone
Variations on
"The Carnival of Venice"
Jean Baptiste Arban;
arr. Hunsberger
Richard Given,

Friday, March 24, 2017

Spotlight: Guest Artist Christine Fawson

Christine Fawson
Guest Artist, trumpet
As a vocalist and trumpet player, Christine Fawson has always loved performing classic jazz standards from the American Songbook. Her new album, Here Now shows her originality in conjunction with some of the old songs she loves.

Christine was a member of the vocal jazz group, Syncopation from 2002-2013. The group recorded three CDs; A New Dance, Of Blue and Wonderful You which were widely successful both in the United States and Japan. Syncopation has been featured at festivals throughout the United States and Japan. The group was featured with the Boston Pops Orchestra at the 2009 4th of July Celebration in Boston.

Christine played trumpet with the DIVA Jazz Orchestra from 2004-2007. She performed with the band at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theater, and Lincoln Center in New York City; and with artists such as Anne Hampton Callaway, John Pizzarelli, Maurice Hines and the New York Pops. She played and sang with DIVA in concerts and festivals in Europe and throughout the United States. Most recently Christine has been a featured vocalist with the band.

Christine has been a solo artist at festivals and concerts around the world including, Darling Harbour Jazz Festival, in Sydney, Australia, World Music Festival in Hong Kong, Hanover Jazz Festival in Germany, the Women in Jazz Festival in Lucca, Italy and the Ramon Cardo Big Band in Valencia, Spain. In 2009, she was featured in the Mexican premier of Gil Evans’ Porgy and Bess with the Guadalajara Jazz Orchestra.

Christine was a member of Beantown, a high energy R&B band from 2004-2012. Beantown was featured alongside the Black Eyed Peas, Lionel Richie, Earth Wind and Fire and Alicia Keys at the New England Patriots Superbowl parties in 2005 and 2008.

Christine is a member of the brass faculty at Berklee College of Music.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Concord Band Shows Their True Colors with “Shades of Blue”

Concord Band Winter Concert
March 4th, 2017, 51 Walden Street, Concord, MA

Reviewed by Vanessa Rene

The Concord Band has reinforced their place at the head of the pack when it comes to concert bands in the Greater Boston area with their most recent concert tour-de-force, “Shades of Blue”, a concert dedicated to the influence of the blues on American Music.

These fine musicians started off the evening with their rendition of An Ellington Portrait, a compilation of favorites by perennial favorite Duke Ellington, and their execution was flawless. Other crowd pleasers in this evening of entertainment were David Southard, playing the title theme in Sammy Nestico’s Persuasion and a fine small ensemble performing the jazz composition Rocker arranged by Gerry Mulligan in 1995.

Hymn to a Blue Hour by John Mackey, a prolific composer of concert band literature who lives in Cambridge, MA, is a stirring mood piece that focuses on the hour of day when the sun has set and the light is slipping away in the blue shades of evening. The quiet, meditative style is deceptive, for it sounds simple in its flowing passages – but indeed the suspensions and dissonances necessary to build tension and feeling are devilishly hard for musicians to sustain without total concentration. Kudos to Kathryn Denney on French Horn! John Mackey is a charming and engaging gentleman with a great deal of enthusiasm for his work. Bravo!

Blue Shades by Frank Ticheli is a technically exacting piece that draws on elements of the blues – chords, rhythm changes, suspensions – without being technically a blues piece. The band performed flawlessly through a very challenging exercise in control, and the solo by Dave Purinton on clarinet, or “Licorice Stick” as it is sometimes called, really spoke!

photo courtesy Doug Finkbeiner
David Southard
alto saxophone
Bright Colored Dances by Lewis Buckley is a work in four movements, crafted to depict the light, joyful flitting of a butterfly in “Butterfly Yellow”, the graceful smooth mid-range dance of “Clarinet Green”, the pompous slightly ridiculous nature of high officials in “Comic Royal Purple” and the fiery passion of “Tarantella Red”. The band shifted effortlessly between moods in this cleverly crafted collection, again displaying their many talents and capabilities.

Blue Sterling, by CBA Music Director Emeritus Bill McManus, is a wonderful piece, commissioned especially for the Concord Band as a tribute by the family of Jerry Kriedberg, alto saxophonist with the Concord Band for over 4 decades, and lover of jazz and blues. This piece is bluesy and cool, and was performed masterfully on solo alto saxophone by David Southard (his second solo performance of the evening). This piece was originally debuted in 2013, with the solo line being performed by the composer himself.

photo courtesy Doug Finkbeiner
Richard Given
Variations on “The Carnival of Venice” is a popular concert piece with an intricate solo performed by Richard Given, principal cornetist with the Concord Band. This piece is characterized by its ever-increasing technicality in the variations of the repeated theme, so well-known to so many. Upon the completion of the piece, Mr. Given gave the audience a brief tutorial in how simple the final iteration is (definitely not!). He then treated the crowd to an encore of this variation. The band did a commendable job of supporting his solo.

Vanessa Rene has been an oboist for most of her life and was a member of the Concord Band from 1989 to 2008. She lives in Lowell with her husband, Larry, and her dog, Bob. When she is not working, she plays the oboe with the Chelmsford Community Band and sings with the Carlisle Community Chorus.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spring Pops Presents Dynamic Guest Artist Christine Fawson

The Concord Band is excited this year to be presenting an eclectic and crowd-pleasing program, which will feature the dynamic and infectious Berklee faculty member Christine Fawson as lead jazz vocalist and trumpeter.

Her pieces will include Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm", "But Not For Me", and "Embraceable You", as well as Cole Porter's "Night and Day" and a rousing version of "Massachusetts", made famous by the Gene Krupa Big Band. (We're expecting a lot of audience participation on that one!)

Also on the program: Gustav Holst's arrangement of Bach's "Fugue a la Gigue", composer Julie Giroux's remarkable "Boston Liberties" (commissioned by the Concord Band in 2008), a tribute to Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein's "Danzon", a little Dixieland and Sousa's "Stars and Stripes". In other words, a little something for every taste!

Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children under 12, which includes seating is at tables for 4 and light refreshments. Go to, or send email to, or call 978-897-9969.

Parking: A special note for those thinking of attending the Friday night performance: there's a big Hollywood film currently being shot in Concord across the street from 51 Walden. It stars Mel Gibson, Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell. They'll be doing some shooting on Friday night, which shouldn't interfere with our program ... BUT ... parking around the venue will be severely limited. The recommendation is to come on the early side and be prepared to park a few blocks from the venue. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Winter Concert 2017

Shades of Blue

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Concord Band

James O’Dell, Music Director
Steven Barbas, Assistant Conductor
Richard Given, Cornet Soloist
David A. Southard, Alto Saxophone Soloist
James O’Dell, Conducting
An Ellington Portraitarr. Floyd E. Werle
Hymn to a Blue HourJohn Mackey
PersuasionSammy Nestico
David Southard, Alto Saxophone Soloist
Blue ShadesFrank Ticheli
RockerGerry Mulligan
Bright-Colored DancesLewis J. Buckley
  1. Butterfly Yellow
  2. Clarinet Green
  3. Comic Royal Purple
  4. Tarantella Red
Blue Sterling: Theme for JerryWilliam G. McManus
David Southard, Alto Saxophone Soloist
Variations on "The Carnival of Venice"Jean Baptiste Arban
arr. Hunsberger
Richard Given, Cornet Soloist

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Concord Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

An Ellington Portrait

Duke Ellington was one of the few jazz artists whose style never seemed to become dated. He was always able to blend his own art with new influences and trends. Songs he wrote as long as seventy years ago still sound fresh and many of the most up-to-date jazz musicians still play them. Floyd Werle’s setting of An Ellington Portrait includes eight—but by no means all—of his best ones: “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Mood Indigo,” (his first hit), “Azure,” “I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart,” “Solitude,” “Caravan” and “In A Sentimental Mood.” (Source: Band Music Notes)

Hymn to a Blue Hour

The blue hour is an oft-poeticized moment of the day—a lingering twilight that halos the sky after sundown but before complete darkness sets in. It is a time of day known for its romantic, spiritual, and ethereal connotations. This is the same essence that inhabits the sonic world of John Mackey’s Hymn to a Blue Hour. The title itself contains two strongly suggestive implications—first, the notion of hymnody, which implies a transcendent and perhaps even sacred tone; and second, the color blue, which has an inexorable tie [blues] to American music. Hymn to a Blue Hour is not directly influenced by the blues, but there is throughout the piece a sense of nostalgic remorse and longing. (Source: Jake Wallace)


Samuel Louis “Sammy” Nestico was a staff arranger for the USAF Band in Washington, D. C. for fifteen years, and for five years, the United States Marine Band. His arrangements and compositions have been a part of over 60 television programs, including M*A*S*H and Love Boat. Persuasion begins in a moderato tempo and the sweet sound of the solo alto saxophone gets the listener interested in its after-statements of themes played by the ensemble. A short phrase in cut-time offers an interesting twist before returning to the tempo and theme of the start. It is easy to understand the persuasion of the piece after its climax of a solo cadenza and mellow ending. (Source: Foothills Symphonic Winds)

Blue Shades

As its title suggests, Blue Shades alludes to the blues, and a jazz feeling is prevalent; however, it is not literally a blues piece. There is not a single 12-bar blues progression in this piece by acclaimed American composer Frank Ticheli, and except for a few isolated sections, the eighth note is not swung. The work, however, is heavily influenced by the blues: “blue notes” (flatted 3rds, 5ths, and 7ths) are used constantly; blues harmonies, rhythms, and melodic idioms pervade the work; and many “shades of blue” are depicted, from bright blue, to dark, to dirty, to hot blue. A clarinet solo recalls Benny Goodman’s hot playing style, and ushers in a series of “wailing” brass chords recalling the train whistle effects commonly used during that era. (Source: Published Score)


The jazz composition Rocker (also known as Rock Salt) was written in 1950 for the Miles Davis Nonet. The group featured several jazz greats: Miles Davis (trumpet), Lee Konitz (alto sax), Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax), Charles Mingus (bass) and also Gunther Schuller (French horn). The tune, written and arranged by Gerry Mulligan, was recorded by the group on the album “Birth of the Cool.” Rocker was written for alto sax, baritone sax, trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, piano, bass and drums. The version that you will hear follows the original score of 1950 with a few corrections made by Gerry Mulligan in 1995, a few months before his death. (Source: Marvin.D. Drake)

Bright-Colored Dances

Composer Lewis Buckley writes, “Each of the four movements of Bright Colored Dances represents a visual image of motion to me. In the first, ‘Butterfly Yellow’, a beautiful golden ball of light finds a dark, empty stage. The ball of light floats out onto the stage, hesitant at first, then breaks into a joyful dance. In the second movement, ‘Clarinet Green’, graceful classical dance is the image, represented by the clarinet, whose beautiful middle range has always appeared green to me. The third movement, ‘Comic Royal Purple’, presents that haughty, empty-headed public official whom we all know, strutting around all puffed up with self-importance. The tuba cadenza perfectly represents this ridiculous dolt. ‘Tarantella Red’ is both a tribute to my Italian heritage and a vivid image of excited, emotional dancers surrounded by an enthusiastic, clapping crowd. I have always envisioned the tarantella in tones of red.” (Source: Lewis Buckley)

Blue Sterling: Theme for Jerry

Concord Band Music Director Emeritus, Dr. William G. McManus, was commissioned by the family of Concord Band alto saxophonist Dr. Gerald Kriedberg, Blue Sterling is subtitled “Theme for Jerry”. The piece reflects the style of music that Jerry loved most and enjoyed playing—big band jazz and swing. After an introduction by the full band, the solo alto introduces the main theme based on a minor blues progression. The second section features a saxophone soli, once again based on a blues progression, but this time in a major key. After a restatement of the opening solo section, the full band plays a “shout chorus” in typical “big-band style” while the solo alto improvises over the band. The piece closes with a final restatement of the main minor blues theme by the solo alto. (Source: W. G. McManus)

Variations on "The Carnival of Venice"

Variations on "The Carnival of Venice" by Jean Baptiste Arban is based on a popular Venetian song that celebrates the longtime Venetian festival that occurs during the two weeks prior to Ash Wednesday. The tune’s unbridled gaiety and enthusiasm immediately attracts the attention of the listener, which has made it one of the most popular thematic vehicles for both writers and performers. (Source: Published Score)

Richard Given, cornet soloist

Richard Given
cornet, flugelhorn
Richard Given, an alumnus of the New England Conservatory and Eastman School of Music, has been principal trumpet of the Concord Band since 2015 and the Lexington Symphony since 2005. He has been called “a sovereign of the Trumpet” by the Boston Globe for his work with the Boston Classical Orchestra, where he served as principal trumpet for more than 20 years, and given the Globe’s accolade, “a genius of sound” for a premiere recording. Known for his musical versatility, he has toured nationally with the Broadway shows Les Miserables, Pirates of Penzance, 42nd Street, and Sweeney Todd, and has played in the Boston productions of Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon. In addition, he has toured Italy, performing the music of Bach and Haydn with the Chorus of Westerly. Rich’s favorite distractions from the trumpet are skiing, mountain biking and disc golf.

David Southard, alto saxophone soloist

David Southard

David Southard began music lessons on his family’s spinet organ in elementary school, switched to saxophone in middle school, and studied clarinet in college. As an avid avocation, he has enjoyed performing in concert bands, big bands, as well as musical theatre and jazz ensembles throughout Greater Boston. Since emigrating from California and joining the Concord Band in 1988, David has performed as soloist on tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones. David has served the Concord Band in various volunteer capacities, on the Board of Trustees, as Treasurer, and as website and blog administrator.

David earned a doctorate in computer science from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and is a principal software engineer at MedAcuity LLC in Westford. David resides in Bedford with his wife, children, and too many cats.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Band Members Solo in Winter Concert

The Concord Band continues its 2016-17 season with a concert entitled "Shades of Blue" featuring two Band members as soloists. The concert, led by Music Director James O'Dell, will take place at 51 Walden, The Performing Arts Center in Concord, MA, at 8:00 PM, Saturday, March 4, 2017. Admission is free; voluntary contributions are welcome at the door.

David Southard, alto sax player with the Band since 1988, will be featured in two pieces:  Persuasion by Sammy Nestico and Blue Sterling (Theme for Jerry) by Concord Band Music Director Emeritus Dr. William G. McManus.  Richard Given, principal trumpet of the Concord Band since 2015, will play Jean Baptiste Arban’s Variations on the Carnival of Venice.

David Southard
alto saxophone soloist
Persuasion, written in the mid-1960s by Sammy Nestico, creator of many arrangements for the Count Basie Band, showcases the lyrical sounds of the alto saxophone in a lush and jazz-infused harmonic setting. The 93-year-old Nestico played trombone in the big bands of Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, and Charley Barnet.  He was also an arranger for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine bands in Washington DC.  Since 1996, the Air Force Band has sponsored an annual competition for big band composers and arrangers and presents the annual Sammy Nestico Award in his honor.  In addition to playing saxophone in the Concord Band, David Southard enjoys playing in area big bands, and music theater and jazz ensembles.  He holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, is a member of the technical staff at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and resides in Bedford, MA with his family.

Bill McManus composed Blue Sterling (Theme for Jerry) in 2012 in memory of Dr. Gerald Kriedberg, longtime alto saxophonist with the Concord Band from 1973 until his death in 2012. Set in a moderate swing tempo, the soloist interweaves the melody through a series of clever “big band” background riffs and jazz harmonizations.  McManus composed the piece as a commission from the Concord Band and Kriedberg’s widow and played the premiere on Jerry’s alto sax with the Concord Band in April 2013.  Dave Southard played the solo at the Concord Band’s summer concert series at Fruitlands Museum in Harvard MA in July 2013.

Richard Given
trumpet soloist
Variations on The Carnival of Venice by Jean Baptiste Arban is based on a popular Venetian song and presents a number of variations on the theme. Each variation presents a whirlwind of cornet virtuosity and multiple tonguing techniques by the soloist. This arrangement was prepared by Donald Hunsberger (conductor of the Eastman Wind Ensemble) specifically for cornet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis and an acclaimed 1987 album by Marsalis, Hunsberger, and Eastman.  Rich Given is an alumnus of the New England Conservatory and the Eastman School of Music, has been principal trumpet of the Lexington Symphony since 2005, and was principal trumpet with Boston Classical Orchestra.  Rich has also toured nationally with the Broadway shows Les Miserables, Pirates of Penzance, 42nd Street, Sweeney Todd, as well as performing in Boston productions of Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon.

Bright-Colored Dances by Metropolitan Wind Symphony Music Director and longtime friend of the Concord Band, Lewis J. Buckley, is a set of four dances for wind ensemble, based on the colors he envisioned when conceptualizing the four movements in 1997. According to Buckley, “The first, Butterfly Yellow, is introduced by the piccolo which represents a cheerful, yellow dash of color that happens upon a dark, empty stage. The dash of color takes a few experimental steps, sees that no one seems to mind, and breaks joyfully into the first dance.” The other three dances are Clarinet Green, Comic Royal Purple and Tarantella Red. Buckley said that it isn’t important that the listener envision the same colors as he did, “the magic of music is of the process that begins with the composer’s pen, is complete only when the music has interacted with the imagination of each individual listener.”

Blue Shades, written by esteemed band composer Frank Ticheli in 1997, was inspired by his own earlier work for jazz band and orchestra. In describing the piece, the composer writes “the work alludes to the Blues, and a jazz feeling is prevalent. Blues harmonies, rhythms, and melodic idioms pervade the work; and many ‘shades of blue’ are depicted, from bright blue, to dark, to dirty, to hot.” Ticheli also pays tribute to the big band era. He said the slow middle section “recalls the atmosphere of a dark, smoky blues haunt. An extended clarinet solo, played in the concert by principal clarinet David Purinton, played near the end recalls Benny Goodman’s hot playing style, and ushers in a series of ‘wailing’ brass chords recalling the train whistle effects commonly used during that era.”

The music of Duke Ellington and 43-year old composer John Mackey round out the Concord Band’s Winter Concert program. An Ellington Portrait was arranged by Floyd Werle, who was the U.S. Air Force Band’s chief musical arranger for more than 30 years. Mackey’s Hymn to a Blue Hour evokes the magical and mystical time of day between twilight and darkness.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

How the blog came to be

David Southard has been a member
of the Concord Band saxophone section
since 1988.
by David Southard, blog editor

I was an engineer at a federal research laboratory in 1995, when I learned of a novel concept for data retrieval called hypertext. The Internet was in its infancy, and something called the World Wide Web was just beginning to emerge. The World Wide Web was born and, as they say, the rest is history.

At the time no one could have predicted the success of the web. I felt that the Band was a special organization, and by publishing our newsletters and programs online, we could offer a resource to band musicians and music directors. We could promote our concerts, certainly, but also promote community bands around the world.

I registered the Band’s website domain name in 1995 and have donated the registry to the Band every year since. I handed off management of the website around the year 2000 and later shifted my attention a relatively new phenomenon: the web log or blog.

Web pages are good for stable information, but they can be difficult for maintaining dynamic content. On the other hand, social media like Facebook are great for capturing the moment—pictures, events, comments and reactions.

As an electronic journal, the Concord Band blog complements our other communication vehicles, including those in print and those that are Internet based, particularly social media. The blog strikes a pleasant balance, in that it records thoughtful posts and articles, organized so that the most timely and relevant information is always front and center. The Concord Band blog may be reached via a link from the Band’s website home page, or directly at

Over the course of a year, the Concord Band produces a surprisingly rich set of published materials—press releases, posters, announcements, feature articles, guest artist biographies, programs, programming notes, reviews and performance videos. The blog captures and organizes all of these in a way that is very accessible.

The main section contains the most recent articles, yet all past articles are easily found using the navigation bar on the left. The tabs across the top reference all the Band's other online media, including our Performance Video Porfolio—a powerful way to access our YouTube performance videos—and complete programs since 2009.

The navigation bar on the left helps the user find background on our national recognition, the Sudler Silver Scroll award from the John Philip Sousa Society, as well a rich collection of articles and features. The navigation bar on the right provides the season schedule calendar of events, map and directions to 51 Walden.

Although the blog publishes publicity and program information that the Band normally produces, we've also had a number of band members submit memoir articles specifically for the blog, speaking personally about how they became involved in music, and how community band has become a significant influence in their lives.

I would like to see more articles written expressly for the blog. For example, it would be very interesting to read audience members’ observations on how the Band has changed over the years. What new repertoire would you like to hear? How has the Band enriched your life? What directions could we take to become more involved in local communities? I invite Band and audience members to submit articles. You can submit your suggestions in the comment section, below.