Thursday, October 31, 2019

"Carnival of the Animals" Concert Videos

Carnival of the Animals
Saturday, October 26, 2019
The Concord Band
James O’Dell, Music Director

Manatee Lyric OvertureRobert Sheldon
Jurassic Park Soundtrack HighlightsJohn Williams; arr. Lavender
Mother Goose MarchJohn Philip Sousa
Carnival of the AnimalsCamille Saint-Saëns; arr. Brand
Of Sailors and WhalesW. Francis McBeth
The Walking FrogKarl L. King
"Hoe Down" from RodeoAaron Copeland; trans. Rogers
Tarantellatraditional; arr. Alfred Reed

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.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Review: Carnival of the Animals

by Gretchen d’Andrea

The Concord Band is a well-respected ensemble that performs serious music, so my interest was piqued at the title of their fall concert, Carnival of the Animals. This suite of music composed for pianos and small ensemble is a set of fourteen small movements that Camille Saint-Saens considered a humorous bit of fun. As a fan of Carnival and The Concord Band, I was excited to hear their take on it.

As it turns out, I preferred several other offerings, especially the McBeth piece, Of Sailors and Whales, and the delightful Manatee Lyric Overture by Robert Sheldon.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Sheldon several years ago, and am familiar with his straightforward and programmatic style. This selection was reminiscent of Respighi’s Pines of Rome. Sparkling, playful moving notes of the A section showed off the fast fingers of the woodwind players like sunlight dancing off water. The B section featured a soaring lyrical theme as manatees, and then returned to the shimmering woodwinds for an optimistic finish. It was a happy-go-lucky start to a very interesting musical journey.

In the McBeth piece, this band’s performance took my breath away. I was impressed by the depth and complexity of the selection as well. The work is a five-movement piece based on scenes from Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Program music tells a story. The composer used tools in his musical arsenal to express the adventures of Ishmael and other characters. Rich chords building and resolving evoked the deceptively peaceful rhythms of the ocean. The intensity of dark vocal tones in the singing section hinted at chaos to come. The chimes were an ominous reminder that this tale has no happy ending.

Later, we were witness to the climax of Ahab’s obsessive quest for the elusive white whale, as exciting tone clusters were punctuated by tight and powerful percussion. When the piece was over, and the turmoil stilled, we couldn’t help remarking that the band deserved a standing ovation for that piece alone. The connection between director, ensemble and audience was remarkable.

I wasn’t enchanted by the prerecorded narration. A live performance is better with live narration. Although the bassoonist was a vocally expressive reader, the piece begged for the sense of urgency that can only be conveyed through live recitation.

Carnival of the Animals included several movements from the suite. Contrast between the movements was lacking. I felt the Elephant was rushed, and the solo clarinet on The Cuckoo was overwhelmed by the band. Placing the clarinet player apart from the band was a cute idea, but made it was harder to hear his repetitive solos. The Fossils movement was a standout, featuring a smooth clarinet solo, ‘Twinkle Twinkle’, in neat juxtaposition to the familiar Danse Macabre xylophone theme representing the bones. It was great. The Swan’s low brass soloist was gorgeous as the swan over an accompaniment of winds and xylophone as ripples of water. The accompaniment wasn’t quite together here, and played too loudly. The invigorating Finale started presto, but lost its pace.

Jurassic Park was well played, a predictable crowd pleaser, rich sonorous themes expressively played by the brass section. My companion and I commented that the energy of a live performance cannot be duplicated. Nuances are pronounced, and various layers of texture created by different families of instruments come alive. The ending here was a bit frayed, but this small issue was resolved by the final chord.

The Walking Frog and Hoedown represent iconic Americana. The conductor gave the audience a context for Frog, mentioning small town circuses of former days. Frog proved that this band is completely comfortable with ragtime syncopation. A nimbly played trumpet solo was cheery and clean. Hoedown from Copland’s Billy the Kid overture conjured visions of cowboys and horses, but the band did not stay together on the intricate rhythms. Saxes overwhelmed the lighter woodwinds at times, and notes got away from players in the faster sections, but nonetheless, the ever confident brass brought the piece to a rousing conclusion.

The Tarantella (tarantula) was fantastic. The audience kept time to a repeated series of toe-tapping musical triplets passed from one section of the band to the other. This Italian folk dance was excellently rendered. The triplet extravaganza at the climax was invigorating. What a great way to end the evening.

Offering musical selections unfamiliar to the general public is a creative service to the community. It sets The Concord Band apart from other community bands. Hard work and dedication to music is evident here. We are drawn in by the familiar, but we are truly enriched by their extraordinary renditions of rarely heard pieces.

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.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Fall Concert

Carnival of the Animals
Saturday, October 26, 2019 • 8:00 PM
The Concord Band
James O’Dell, Music Director
Nathaniel Hefferman, narrator

James O’Dell conducting
Manatee Lyric Overture Robert Sheldon (b. 1954)
Jurassic Park Soundtrack Highlights John Williams (b. 1932)
arr. Lavender
Mother Goose March John Philip Sousa (1854–1932)
Carnival of the Animals Camille Saint–Saëns (1835–1921)
arr. Brand
  1. Introduction and Royal March of the Lions
  2. The Elephant
  3. The Cuckoo far off in the Wood
  4. Fossils
  5. The Swan
  6. Finale
Of Sailors and Whales W. Francis McBeth (1933–2012)
  1. Ishmael
  2. Queequeg
  3. Father Mapple
  4. Ahab
  5. The White Whale
The Walking Frog Karl L. King (1891–1971)
“Hoe Down” from Rodeo Aaron Copland (1900–1990)
trans. Rogers
Tarantella arr. Alfred Reed (1921–2005)

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.
View program notes...

Nathaniel Hefferman

Nathaniel Hefferman
Nathaniel Hefferman, a member of the Concord Band since 2004, earned his degree in music from Ithaca College, where he studied bassoon with Edward Gobrecht. He has been a member of many community bands and orchestras, including the SE Mass Community Concert Band, the American Band of Providence, the Lexington Bicentennial Band, the Arlington Philharmonic, the Wellesley Symphony, the Civic Symphony of Boston, the New England Philharmonic, and the Concord Band. Mr. Hefferman’s primary role in the Concord Band is as principal bassoonist, but he is also the Band’s announcer. In that capacity he serves as narrator in two pieces on tonight’s program, one of them having been pre-recorded.

Mr. Hefferman is a freelance musician and lives in Lexington.

Manatee Lyric Overture

Manatee Lyric Overture by Robert Sheldon (b. 1954) is a robust, spirited, and sonorous overture that uses the opening measures as the thematic material throughout the entire composition. The work was commissioned by the Manatee County (Florida) School Board and given its first performance in February, 1985, with the composer conducting. (Source: published score)

Jurassic Park Soundtrack Highlights

John Williams (b. 1932) is one of the most prominent and recognizable composers of music for film and concert stage, and his score for the movie Jurassic Park is truly iconic. Jurassic Park Soundtrack Highlights, arranged by Paul Lavender, includes three most prominent themes: “Journey to Island” featuring the noble trumpet fanfare, the reflective “Theme from Jurassic Park,” and the haunting “Raptors” theme. (Source: JRO)

Mother Goose

Mother Goose by John Philip Sousa (1824–1892) was one of his less well-known marches and contains a number of nursery songs including “Down in the Meadow,” “There Is a Man in Our Town,” “Come All Ye Young Maids,” “I’se Come to See Miss Jennie Jones,” “Little Jack Horner,” and “Our Dear Doctor.” (Source: JRO)

The Carnival of the Animals

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921) wrote his Grand Zoological Fantasy, The Carnival of the Animals, in 1886 and it was first performed at a Shrove Tuesday concert in that year with the composer as one of the performers. Subsequently, Saint-Saëns allowed it to be performed on only a few occasions and under special conditions. Later he forbade it to be performed at all but this restriction was lifted under a special provision in his will. The movements included by arranger Geoffrey Brand are “Introduction and Royal March of the Lions,” “The Elephant,” “The Cuckoo far off in the Wood,” “Fossils,” “The Swan,” and “Finale.” Accompanying each movement are humorous verses written by Ogden Nash in 1949. (Source: published score)

Of Sailors and Whales

W. Francis McBeth (1933–2012) composed the tone poem Of Sailors and Whales drawing inspiration for the five scenes from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. It was commissioned by and is dedicated to the California Band Directors Association, Inc., and is subdedicated to Robert Lanon White, Commander USN (Ret.), who went to sea as a simple sailor. The narration that precedes each movement was devised by Lewis J. Buckley, Conductor Laureate of the US Coast Guard Band and MetWinds. (Source: published score)

The Walking Frog

The emergence of ragtime coincided with the great era of concert bands. The similarities between the marches, two steps, cakewalks, and ragtime pieces resulted in an intermingling of these forms. Famous circus bandmaster Karl L. King (1891–1971) wrote The Walking Frog between 1917 and 1918 during the time he was the director of the Barnum & Bailey’s Circus Band, but it was not published until after he had left the circus. King originally wrote the piece as a circus clown “walk about” but its infectious charm soon made it a favorite with many other circus acts. (Source: published score)

“Hoe Down” from Rodeo

Aaron Copland (1900–1990) extracted a mini-suite from his ballet score Rodeo, choreographed by Agnes de Mille, to be used specifically for concert performance. The fourth episode, “Hoe Down,” from Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo has been superbly transcribed for band by Mark Rogers, Director of Publications for Southern Music Company. A square dance tune called “Bonyparte” provides the principal theme of Hoe Down. (Source: published score)


Arranged by master composer and arranger Alfred Reed (1921– 2005), Tarantella is a couple folk dance of Italy characterized by light, quick steps and teasing, flirtatious behavior between partners; women dancers frequently carry tambourines. The music is in lively 6/8 time. Tarantellas for two couples are also danced. The tarantella’s origin is connected with tarantism, a disease or form of hysteria that appeared in Italy in the 15th to the 17th century and that was obscurely associated with the bite of the tarantula spider; victims seemingly were cured by frenzied dancing. All three words ultimately derive from the name of the town of Taranto, Italy. (Source:

Friday, October 11, 2019

Concord Band to Perform Carnival of the Animals

After a successful 60th anniversary season, capped by a performance at the Minute Man National Historical Park’s own 60th anniversary commemoration, The Concord Band will hold its Fall Concert at 8:00 pm Saturday, October 26, 2019, at the Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden in Concord, Mass. Music Director James O’Dell has chosen the theme, “Carnival of the Animals,” featuring music inspired by the animal kingdom, from pre-historic to present-day, in all of its splendor, beauty, power, and might. Admission to the Concord Band’s Fall Concert is free; donations are gratefully accepted.

In addition to Camille Saint-Saëns’ titular composition, the program will include W. Francis McBeth’s Of Sailors and Whales, with narrative introductions to each of the five movements excerpted from Melville’s literary masterpiece, Moby Dick. Other works include Aaron Copland’s Hoe Down, from his suite from the ballet Rodeo, the Italian folk dance Tarantella arranged by Alfred Reed, and Jurassic Park Soundtrack Highlights from the original film score by John Williams—just in time for the anticipated sequel, Jurassic World 3 featuring the cast from the original movie. Robert Sheldon’s Manatee Lyric Overture, Sousa’s seldom-performed Mother Goose March, and Karl L. King’s Walking Frog two-step round out the program.
Nat Hefferman

British composer Geoffrey Brand has arranged Carnival of the Animals into a suite in six movements for concert band. Accompanying each movement will be humorous and apt poems by Ogden Nash. Concord Band bassoonist and announcer Nat Hefferman will read the Nash poems as well as the Melville narrations in Of Sailors and Whales.

The Concord Band is supported by grants from Concord and Bolton Cultural Councils, agencies of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The Band is an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which gladly accepts donations through secure on-line links at the Concord Band’s homepage ( or blog (, where you can also find more information about the 2013 Sudler Silver Scroll-winning ensemble.