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Program Notes

Diamond Jubilee Suite

commission (2019/3/2)

Andrew Boysen, composer

Diamond Jubilee Suite was commissioned by the Concord (Massachusetts) Band, James O’Dell, Music Director, to celebrate the Concord Band’s 60th anniversary. The suite follows traditional form, consisting of three movements (March, Song, and Finale) and using the motivic cell of C-B-A (for Concord Band Association) as formative and thematic material. The three notes that make up this set also form the key centers for each of the piece’s three movements (I is in C major, II is in B♭ major, and III is in A♭ major/whole tone). Each of the three movements also pay homage to one of the band’s three conductors and one of the band’s three main functions throughout its history and each movement is also slightly more difficult than the previous movement, reflecting the continued and consistent growth in the musicianship of the band.

The first movement, “March,” is dedicated to William Toland, the first director of the Concord Band. He was a percussionist, thus the first instrument heard in the movement is an off-stage snare drum. This movement is also intended to reflect one of the earliest functions of the band, marching in town and regional parades. It is in the form of a patrol, intended to suggest the approach, passing by, and recession of the band in an actual parade. The movement begins with an off-stage snare drum and then an off-stage piccolo, indicative of the fife and drum music that traces itself to the roots of Concord’s history in the Revolutionary War. The first three notes of the first strain as well as the beginning of the trio are the descending tri-chord that is the main motive for the piece.

The second movement, “Song,” is dedicated to William McManus, the second director of the Concord Band. He was a saxophone player, so the first instrument heard in this movement is an alto saxophone soloist playing the main melody for the movement. One of the main functions of the Concord Band has been to play a series of outdoor summer concerts that feature lighter and more popular music. Mr. McManus was also the conductor who worked hard to bring more popular music into the band’s repertoire. This is reflected in the movement through traditional song form (AABA) presented twice and sandwiching a lighter and more playful middle section. The pitch material for the movement takes the main tri-chord and adds a chordal fifth to it, creating a more “popular music” sound through what is usually referred to as an added ninth chord. Finally, this movement pays homage to the three important composers who wrote suites for band which form the cornerstones of our repertoire. The alto saxophone solo at the beginning is an additional reference to the second movement of Gordon Jacob’s Original Suite, the climax and conclusion of the exterior sections are obvious references to the second movement of Gustav Holst’s Suite in F, and the faster interior section is an homage to the second movement of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s English Folk Song Suite.

The third movement, “Finale,” is dedicated to the band’s third (and present) conductor, James O’Dell. He is a tuba player, so the opening solo this time is on that instrument. This movement is intended to reflect the band’s more serious, indoor concerts in which they have gradually approached more and more challenging musical works, especially under the leadership of Mr. O’Dell. Therefore, this movement takes the basic tri-chord and expands it to become a full whole tone scale for parts of the movement. It also uses a technique called bitonality, where sections of the ensemble are playing different chords at the same time. The movement is in ABAB form with a short coda at the end. The A sections are based entirely on the opening tuba phrase, with the melodic material simply being an augmented version of the energetic bass line. The first B section recalls the trio melody from the first movement and the second B section recalls the main melody of the second movement, thereby connecting each of these movements to each other. The climax of the work arrives with a final, decisive C-B♭-A♭ statement in the brass. There is a moment of silence and then the three soloists/conductors (snare drum, alto saxophone, tuba) combine to lead the ensemble into a final celebratory phrase.

—Andrew Boysen

INDEX


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