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.