Sunday, October 22, 2023

New! Kids' Concert: Bandemonium!

2023 Bandemonium!

Why should adults
have all the fun?

BANDEMONIUM! is an interactive experience with wiggle room for kids. Freeze dance, instrument petting zoo, refreshments included.

Seating is limited, advance tickets are recommended. Purchase tickets by following the QR code link:

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Program: "New England Portraits"

Fall Concert

Saturday, October 21, 2023 • 8:00 PM

The Concord Band
James O’Dell, Music Director and Conductor
John Rabinowitz, Announcer

View Livestream


Chester, Overture for BandWilliam Schuman
Old Home Days
  1. Waltz
  2. a) The Opera House (from “Memories”)
    b) Old Home Days (Chorus)
  3. The Collection
  4. Slow March
  5. London Bridge is Fallen Down!
Charles E. Ives
arr. Jonathan Elkus
North Bridge PortraitStephen Bulla


Three New England CaricaturesJames Curnow
  1. Jolly Old Roger
  2. Polly Van
  3. Captain Kidd
Snapshots of AcadiaAndrew Boysen, Jr.
  1. Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
  2. Crashing water at Thunder Hole
  3. Calm Water in front of Cadillac Mountain
  4. Sunrise at Acadia
BeachscapesRoger Cichy
  1. Nauset
  2. Rocky Neck
  3. Scarborough


Thanks to Berry Mirrer, video producer; all of the volunteer camera operators; Jonathan Day, audio producer; and Nicki McGachey, live stream producer for this concert. Thanks also to Jean Patterson for preparing the slide show.

Chester, Overture for Band

William Howard Schuman, one of America’s most celebrated and accomplished composers, was born in NYC in 1910, to Samuel and Rachel Schuman. He was named, incidentally, for the 27th President of the United States, William Howard Taft, but his family called him Bill.

He played violin and banjo as a child, and formed a dance band in high school, “Billy Schuman had his Alamo Society Orchestra”, in which he played string bass- and they did local weddings and bar mitzvahs.

While writing popular songs as hobby, (including a staggering 40 in collaboration with the great lyricist Frank Loesser) Schuman entered NYU’s School of Commerce to pursue a business degree—until a fateful day in 1930 when he attended a Carnegie Hall concert of the NY Phil, conducted by Arturo Toscanini that changed his life. He said of that night, “I was astounded at seeing the sea of stringed instruments, everybody bowing together. The visual thing alone was astonishing. But the sound! I was overwhelmed. The very next day, I decided to become a composer.”

And what a career followed: 8 symphonies, the first ever Pulitzer Prize for music in 1943 for his Cantata No. 2, adapted from poems by another great American artist, Walt Whitman, a world-renowned concerto for violin, an opera based on “Casey at the Bat”. He taught composition at Sarah Lawrence, became president of the Julliard School, founded the Julliard String Quartet, became president of Lincoln center, won another Pulitzer in 1985 for half a century of contributions to American music as composer and educator, and received the National Medal for the Arts in 1987.

Inaugurating the 250th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, we are pleased to perform for you his 1956 composition, Chester Overture for Band, adapted by the composer from his own orchestral work entitled New England Triptych. It is based on a tune written by arguably the first great homegrown American composer, of European stock, William Billings, first published in 1770. Chester was so popular that it was sung from Vermont to South Carolina, and became THE unofficial anthem of the American Revolution, sung around the campfires of the Continental Army and played by fifers on the march.

You’ll hear the original Billings chorale at the start of the piece, before Schuman breaks it into fragments of intense development which call to mind the struggle and tumult, but also the determination, the yearning for freedom during those difficult Revolutionary War years.

Program notes by John Rabinowitz

Old Home Days

Charles Ives, born in 1874 to a father who was a band leader during the US Civil War, was raised in a prominent Danbury CT family—and went on to become perhaps the first American composer of international renown, and a pioneer in experimental musical techniques, including polytonality, tone clusters, so called ‘chance’ music, and quarter tones.

All delivered in a package of Ives’s favorite musical influences, which included hymns, traditional folk music, town band melodies at holiday parades, fiddlers at Saturday night dances, patriotic songs, parlor ballads and the melodies of Stephen Foster.

To complete the fascinatingly contradictory portrait, Ives’s musical career was a kind of side hustle. He had a parallel and equally successful career running his own… insurance agency! where he pioneered insurance plans for wealthy clients that prefigured many aspects of modern-day estate planning.

Incidentally, there was another great American artist who also worked in the insurance biz: the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Wallace Stevens, born five years after Ives, and who also spent his entire 9-to-5 career at an insurance company in Hartford. CT.

Ives’s music went largely ignored during his lifetime, but in the years since his death in 1954, his reputation has soared, championed by luminaries like Elliot Carter, Aaron Copland, Bernard Herrmann, Gustav Mahler, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, John Cage, Frank Zappa and Phil Lesh, bassist for the Grateful Dead, who described Ives as one of his musical heroes. How’s that for irony: an insurance guy praised by one of the Dead.

We will be performing tonight Ives’s charming suite entitled Old Home Days, arranged for Band by Jonathan Elkus, which is both full of Ivesian nostalgia and also has little traces of those characteristic Ives touches: unexpected dissonances, out of kilter rhythms where you least expect them, snatches of familiar tunes heard fleetingly, as though from across a town green: listen especially for “Little Annie Rooney,” “Auld Lang Syne,” “The Girl I left Behind Me,” “London Bridge is Fallen Down!,” even a quotation from Handel’s oratorio “Saul” in the Slow March. And in the Opera House movement, notice how just as the listener gets ready to watch the show as the curtain goes up, Ives diverts the listeners attention to what’s happening OUTSIDE the theater: a village band marching by, and the ringing of church and schoolhouse bells.

Program notes by John Rabinowitz

North Bridge Portrait

After graduating in 1976 from the Berklee College of Music with a degree in composition, Stephen Bulla went on to become the chief arranger for the President’s Own Marine Corps Band in Washington, DC, while also composing music for the celebrated group. When he left in 2010, composer John Williams described Bulla as “one of the most accomplished musicians of his generation.”

In addition to his tenure with the Marine Band, Bulla has composed for, and conducted, the National Capital Band of the Salvation Army, and has served as music director of the New England Brass Band and the Brass of the Potomac.

In 1999, the Concord Band commissioned Bulla to create a piece honoring the colonial heritage of New England. And Bulla responded with his evocative “North Bridge Portrait”, based on authentic musical themes of the American Revolutionary Period.

In his own words, “A slow and ominously quiet introductory section leads to a brisk sea-chantey-like tune, depicting the busy lifestyle of the Colonists. The music then slows, and an expressive setting of Willam Billings’ song ‘America’ is developed and incorporated in the musical tapestry as a tribute to the new England composer’s work. The music concludes with a dramatic recreation of the famous first shot that led the country to war (this time fired by the percussion section), along with a rousing setting of ‘Washington’s March,’ a popular song of that day.”

Contrasting colors and stylistic shifts tracing the historic events surrounding "the shot heard 'round the world," North Bridge Portrait is a memorable experience to play… and we trust, to hear.

Program notes by John Rabinowitz

Three New England Caricatures

Another of our most treasured commission composers is James Curnow, born and raised in Michigan, now living in Kentucky, where he is composer-in-residence (emeritus) on the faculty of Asbury University in Wilmore.

Those of you who have attended our Holiday Pops concerts each year in December are undoubtedly familiar with one of those commissions, Overture to a Winter Festival, which we play joyfully every year without fail, a lyrical Curnow piece written as a retirement gift in 1994 for the Concord Band’s first music director, William Toland. 

And there have been other commissions as well, including 1987’s Five Concord Diversions and 1988’s beautiful Welsh Variants.

Tonight, in the spirit of our New England theme, we’re delighted to be performing Curnow’s evocative Three New England Caricatures, written in 2011 and dedicated to the New England Youth Wind Ensemble.

Written in three movements, “Jolly Old Roger,” “Polly Van,” and “Captain Kidd,” after the infamous 17th century pirate, the piece features many of Curnow’s characteristic flourishes—beautiful melodies, jaunty rhythms, challenging passage work, and, throughout, a myriad of percussion sounds coming from cake pans, frying pans and water bottles.

Program notes by John Rabinowitz

Snapshots of Acadia

Those of you who attended the Band’s 60th Anniversary concert in March of 2019 might recognize the name of our next composer, Andrew Boysen, Professor of Music at the University of New Hampshire where he conducts their wind symphony and teaches conducting and composition. Andy wrote a beautiful piece for us for that former occasion, the Diamond Jubilee Suite, and he traveled down from his native NH to conduct it for us that night, to our great delight.

Tonight we’ll be performing another evocative composition of his entitled Snapshots of Acadia, which features four movements depicting the Bar Harbor Lighthouse, Thunder Hole, Calm Waters in Front of Cadillac Mountain and celebrated Acadia Sunrise. You’ll be treated to a video montage showing selected images of those landmarks, part of the terrific slide presentation put together by Jean Patterson of our horn section, which will help set the mood.

In fact the piece was originally commissioned by the photographer John Morneau, who’s images you’ll see, and the University of Southern Maine Music Academy, on the occasion of their 25th Anniversary. The four movements are based on the word ACADIA, using each of the letters of that word as musical notes (the letter I becoming the note E). The basic melodic cell for the piece is a-c-a-d-e-a, which underpins all four movements.

Program notes by John Rabinowitz


Rhode Island composer Roger Cichy has been a long time friend to the Concord Band, composing commissioned pieces for us for many years, including the 2009 Flowing Pens from Concord, written for the Band’s 50th anniversary, Emblazoned Joy, a fanfare we play before every Fruitlands concert, and The Diamond Baton, a piece celebrating the legacy of Band percussionist Dan Diamond.

Tonight we’re excited to present to you a composition commissioned by The American Band Commissioning Project Consortium, entitled Beachscapes, from 2008.

In his program notes, Roger notes that “each [New England] beach has its’ own personality. Whether the beach tends to draw families with children, or the younger generation or those looking for peace and serenity, each beach has a different feel, character, even a different set of sounds”.

Know for his capacity for taking intangible experience and emotions and turning them into memorable music, Roger sets about in this piece to convey the feel of Nauset Beach on the Cape, with large waves, surfers, beach chowder smells, sea creatures churned up by the heavy surf, and of course sea gulls snatching food-to Rocky Neck Beach in East Lyme, CT, with calmer and warmer waters, gentle rhythmic waves and warm breezes, interrupted only by an Amtrak train streaking by, to Scarborough Beach in Narragansett, RI, a family beach where finding parking is paramount, tons of beach paraphernalia is schlepped back and forth, sand castles are built and destroyed, and the occasional crab interrupts the proceedings.

Program notes by John Rabinowitz

Sunday, October 1, 2023

New England Portraits

2023 Fall Concert Poster

Our Fall Concert, 8pm on October 21, will inaugurate the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, upcoming in 2025, featuring Chester Overture for Band by William Schuman, based on Boston composer William Billings’ best known song that became a Revolutionary War patriotic anthem.

Composed in 1956, Schuman expanded the third movement from his New England Tryptich for orchestra and arranged it for concert band. The Concord Band played Chester during the Bicentennial and included the piece on the Band’s 1975 LP. More recently, the Band performed Chester at the 2012 tribute to Music Director Laurate William Toland, who had conceived and conducted the 1975 album.

Maestro James O’Dell has rounded out the theme, New England Portraits, with other pieces inspired by places and events of New England. Four of these pieces feature composers who have written commissions expressly for the Concord Band. 

Andrew Boysen’s Snapshots of Acadia, with movements depicting the Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Thunder Hole, Cadillac Mountain and its famous sunrise, will be presented alongside a video showing selected images of the landmarks. Roger Cichy, who also has conducted his original compositions with the Concord Band, wrote Beachscapes to recognize three beaches, Nauset (Massachusetts), Rocky Neck (Connecticut), and Scarborough (Rhode Island). Stephen Bulla composed North Bridge Portrait about Concord's famous bridge and the "shot heard round the world." Three New England Caricatures was written by James Curnow on a commission from UMass Lowell dedicated to the New England Youth Wind Ensemble. The piece is loaded with interesting percussion sounds such as cake pans, frying pans, and water bottles, comprising three movements: "Old Jolly Roger," "Polly Van," and "Captain Kidd," after the infamous 17th century pirate.

The finale of the program is Old Home Days by Danbury Connecticut-born composer Charles Ives. The multi-movement work is based on hymn tunes, traditional songs, and melodies that might be performed by New England small town bands at parades and country dances. 

The Fall Concert will be held Saturday October 21, 2023 at 8:00 pm at 51 Walden Performing Arts Center in Concord, MA. Admission is free, with a $20 donation requested. The Concord Band is sponsored in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. More information is available on the Band’s website