The Concord Band's Fall Concert
Concord, Mass, October 23, 2011 — Last Saturday night
(Oct 22) the Concord Band performed the first concert of their 2011/2012
The band has now developed a strong following, especially for their
winter pops concerts and their very popular summer concerts at the
Fruitlands Museum in Harvard.
For those who haven’t heard the band in concert at the 51 Walden
St. Performing Arts Center, I would strongly encourage you to check out
their calendar and pick up some tickets.
Concert band performances are very enjoyable by listeners of all ages and
Even the more serious pieces of contemporary band music tend to be
accessible to the casual listener.
Band works tend to be shorter than orchestral music, and generally very
rhythmic and exciting.
Saturday night’s performance was no exception.
The concert opened with American Overture for Band by Joseph
Jenkins under the baton of James O’Dell.
This stirring piece opened with a solid and dramatic fanfare very well
played by the French horns.
The piece continued with a pleasing melodic interchange punctuated with
staccato elements cleanly articulated, especially in the brass sections.
Louanne MacKenzie’s oboe “folk tune” solo was
Next on the program was Alan Hovhaness’ Hymn to Yerevan.
After a solemn opening intended as a reminder of the many Armenians who
found refuge from massacres near the town of Yerevan, the middle section
changed the mood to one of celebration with an unmetered section
featuring bells and chimes representing church bells.
The Holst Second Suite for Military Band is a staple of the
band literature and very familiar to classical music listeners.
The work is composed of four movements, each of which is based on English
folk music roots.
The work’s familiarity and instant listener appeal places a special
demand on performance accuracy.
This was a very satisfying performance with good dynamics, phrasing and
Ed Kilborn’s euphonium solo was especially nice on an instrument
that you don’t hear in a solo setting all that often.
Paul Silver’s sensitive clarinet playing was also enjoyable.
In fact the entire clarinet section deserves kudos for intonation,
articulation, and just generally being a solid section.
Robert Buckley’s Continuum is a new work centered around
a two-measure repeated figure supporting a variety of bluesy, rhythmic,
and percussive passages.
The bass clarinet passage at the beginning was very effective.
Despite the complexity of this piece the band gave a convincing
performance with clearly defined lines and it was very well received by
After the intermission the the band continued under the baton of guest
conductor Keith Brion with Dwellers of the Western World by John
Brion has a special interest in Sousa and has his own ensemble, the
“New Sousa Band” which has toured worldwide.
Brion’s introductions to the music were interesting and
The work itself is in three movements, “Red Man,”
“White Man,” and “Black Man.”
In each of these Sousa has presented his musical impression of these
peoples in America at the turn of the 20th century.
Viewed from the present perspective the music seems dated and somewhat
misleading - as if they were intended as a sound track for a naively
directed silent movie.
Nevertheless they were interesting, enjoyable, certainly original, and
bearing Sousa’s unmistakeable imprint.
The “Black Man” movement in particular seemed very much like
a blending of the music of Sousa with that of Joplin.
Brion continued on the podium with Sousa’s Boy Scouts of
America march. This is a seldom heard but very nice march intended
for the somewhat lighter marching step of a Boy Scout troop.
On hand for the performance were the members of Concord Boy Scouts Troop
James O’Dell returned to the podium to conduct The Guide
by Noah Taylor.
Taylor was the winner of a student composer competition in 2005 held by
the Metropolitan Wind Symphony and the group subsequently commissioned
him to write this composition.
This is a very original and impressive work filled with unique elements,
dramatic dynamics and appealing melodic lines.
The saxophone fluttering over a clarinet bass was especially
The final piece on the program brought Keith Brion back to the podium
to conduct The National Game by Sousa.
James “Slugger” O’Dell joined the percussion section to
play 1st bat.
Together with Ken “Masher” Troup on 2nd bat they and the rest
of the band turned in a “grand slam” performance of this
seldom heard but thoroughly enjoyable Sousa composition.
The bats, by-the-way, provided just the right sound as well as visual
During the intermission of this concert June Grace, a member of the
flute section, was awarded the “Lifetime Service Award” for
her 40 years of service to the Concord Band in various capacities.
June was quoted as saying that she was honored to be involved with
musicians “who obtain amazing results given the limitation of time
available for rehearsals and outside practice.”
Many of the band members travel from more than forty area communities one
or more nights a week and many concert weekends.
They perform in fourteen or more concerts a year, entertain families at
Fruitlands Museum in the summer as well as the annual 4th of July concert
Many also play in other events in their communities or at 51 Walden
events such as the Waltz Night, Messiah Sings, musicals, and First Night
They have day jobs, families, and busy lives like the rest of us.
Yet they find time to contribute not only as performing members, but as
administrative personnel to keep the myriad of supporting tasks necessary
to keep any performing group operating successfully.
The result of their efforts is a highly respected and well recognized all
volunteer wind ensemble which has entertained this area year round for
more than half a century and commissioned musical works which are now
part of the standard literature and performed around the world.
The success of the Concord Band is directly attributable to the
dedication and wisdom as well as the talent of its members.
Over the years they have been very successful in the selection of music
directors who are well qualified to teach and support the organization as
well as provide the musical guidance and direction.
The musical programming has been consistent in remaining accessible to a
wide audience while presenting a satisfying mix of familiar and new works
and quality guest performers.
In short, they are always entertaining.
The ticket prices are low, the parking is free and the venue is near.
It would make an excellent night out for a family member who has moved to
an assisted living facility.
The options for quality live family entertainment at a reasonable price
are limited these days.
A Concord Band concert remains one of the best.
reviewed by Richard Chick
For additional information, contact Peter Norton,
Concord Band Publicity.
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