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.