Mission, Policies and Character
Formed in 1959 as a marching band to participate in patriotic celebrations in the Town of Concord, Massachusetts, the Concord Band has been a symphonic wind ensemble since 1970. The 65 members of the Concord Band come from more than 40 area towns, and have played in the organization for an average of fourteen years; 13 have been members for 25 years or more. The Band rehearses most Monday evenings (except during the month of August and a break from mid-December until the new year) at 7:30 PM. The Concord Band is probably best known for its commissioning of new works for concert band. The Band may well have commissioned more such works than any other community band in the world.
The concert year consists of as many as 17 concerts—6 during the fall/winter/spring season at 51 Walden, Concord's Performing Arts Center and the Band's permanent home, and 11, mostly outdoors, during the summer season at its summer home, Fruitlands Museum, in the town of Harvard, and other locations. The indoor concert schedule is somewhat rigid because of very tight scheduling at 51 Walden, with formal concerts in March and October, sponsored Pops concerts (Friday/Saturday) in April, and the Band's own Holiday Pops concerts (Friday/Saturday) in December. From time to time, the Band has held a Young Artist of the Year Competition (first held in 1996), the winner performing with the Band in its March or April concerts.
Summer concerts include the Town of Concord July 4th celebration, and a series of six Fruitlands concerts, which take place on Thursday evenings in late June and July. In most seasons, several additional summer concerts are scheduled. In recent years, these have included concerts in Belmont, Bolton, Boston, Hudson, Newburyport, Pittsfield and Springfield, Massachusetts and Nashua, New Hampshire. The Concord Band, once described by then University of Massachusetts Director of Bands Malcolm W. Rowell as "a wonderful ensemble with a marvelous history...a cultural treasure," also participates frequently in the annual Boston Festival of Bands held in Faneuil Hall each June.
The principal objectives of the Band are
To provide an opportunity for instrumentalists beyond high school age to continue in their development and enjoyment of their participation in a large ensemble and to play under noted guest conductors and with world-class soloists.
To provide, for the most proficient players in the ensemble, the opportunity to play solos with the Band.
To enlarge the literature for symphonic wind ensemble through the commissioning of new works.
To provide to the community an opportunity to hear the finest in concert band music at modest cost through concerts and participation in such events as the dedication of the Concord War Memorial and the Town of Concord Birthday celebration.
A Community Band with a Professional Attitude
The Concord Band is a unique community-based organization. While it is a community band in several important senses, the Band's environment and activities are in many ways not very different from those of a professional musical performing ensemble. This dual nature of the Concord Band is what makes it unique.
A Community Band...
The Concord Band is a community band in that it exists primarily for the pleasure and entertainment of its playing members and its audience of friends, neighbors and residents of the areas in which it performs. Players are attracted to the Band by its reputation or personal experience and tend to stay with the Band for a long time.
It has been a long-standing policy of the Band not to employ "ringers" (professional musicians) to fill in gaps in the Band's instrumentation. Nor do new players audition for open seats. It has always been the Band's policy to let a newcomer see how his/her capabilities fit. When a player is not quite ready to play at the Band's level, he/she usually goes home to practice for a period of time until his/her skill levels are appropriate. While some new players lack the dedication or natural ability to achieve the desired results, rarely has it been necessary for the Band's Music Director to ask a player to leave involuntarily.
The personality of the Music Director is critical to the success of the Concord Band. He or she must be professional yet capable of working with amateurs. It would be inappropriate for this individual to be dictatorial, critical of players at a personal level, or have other traits that would make for an unpleasant environment. The Band's players want to be challenged musically, but do not want to be made to feel uncomfortable.
A few of the Band's members are professional musicians. For most, however, the Band is a hobby. Its members are teachers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, lawyers...they are typical members of the community.
...with a Professional Attitude
The Band is governed by a seven-member Board of Trustees (elected from within its ranks), which takes the work of the Band very seriously. The Music Director is a non-voting ex officio participant in the work of the Board and all of its meetings. The Concord Band is a founding resident of 51 Walden, a small (400-seat) but unique and extremely functional theater/concert hall leased by the Town of Concord to the Friends of the Performing Arts in Concord (FOPAC), which operates it. 51 Walden has both music and theatrical stages and easily accessible storage for the Band's extensive array of percussion instruments, other equipment, and a library of well over 1,200 pieces. The building was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. 51 Walden has three Resident Performing Arts Groups: the Concord Band, the Concord Orchestra, and the Concord Players, all of which are represented on FOPAC's Board of Directors.
Although all players are unpaid, the Band fosters a professional attitude. All players are expected to:
Treat the music director and other players with respect at all times. This includes not talking or "practicing" during rehearsals.
Arrive at rehearsals and concerts early enough to warm up and tune.
Inform the music director or section leader in advance if the player must miss a rehearsal or concert. As a guideline, if a player misses two or more rehearsals they may play the ensuing concert only with the agreement of the music director.
Practice and prepare parts appropriately.
Volunteer for support tasks such as Board positions, hall set-up and tear-down, concert hall decorations, fundraising, etc.
During a typical season, the Concord Band is often joined by first-rate professional soloists and/or guest conductors. Soloists have been luminaries (in chronological order) percussionist William M. Toland, alto saxophonist Kenneth Radnovsky, the Back Bay Brass Quintet, tubist Robert Searle, soprano Michelle French, multi-woodwind player Sylvestro d'Urbano, soprano Monique Phinney, mezzo-soprano Dani Raphael, tenor Robert Towne, bass-baritone Donald Bravo, Jr., bassoonist John Ruze, pianist Frederick Moyer, percussionist Gary Spellisey, mezzo-soprano Vanessa Yvonne, trombonist Phil Wilson, trumpeter Natallo Paella, sopranos Linda Nigro and Donna Kearney, trombonist Ronald Barron, tubist Kenneth Amis, euphonium players John Garcia and Eric Spinelli, vocalist Nancy Williams-Morizio, alto saxophonists Paul Berler and Lynn Klock, soprano Cynthia Cobb Sullivan, trumpeters Terry Everson and Jerry Seeco, trombonist Don Lucas, clarinetist Ethan Sloane, and jazz vocalist Amanda Carr.
Guest conductors have been (in chronological order) Frederick Fennell, William Revelli, Arnald Gabriel, Leonard B. Smith, John Corley, Willis Traphagan, Peter Hazzard, Lee Chrisman, James Curnow, Steven Grimo, Thomas G. Everett, Alfred Dentino, Christopher Morehouse, Paul Berler, William H. Silvester, Malcolm W. Rowell, Steven Barbas and Elliot Del Borgo. Lt. Col. Steven Grimo, then commander of the US Air Force Academy Band, has described the Concord Band as "true Patriots and the Soul of New England. The Concord Band is truly a Community Band with a professional attitude. They enjoy the experience of making music and know how to Make it Happen!"
Since 1967 the Band has either commissioned or has had written for it 65 new works for symphonic wind ensemble—possibly more than any other community band in the world. Commissioned works have been written (in chronological order) by composers Norman Dello Joio, Peter Hazzard, Richard Cornell, Robert Sirota, John Bavicchi, Douglas Toland, Kurt Phinney, Warren Barker, John Higgins, James Curnow, Thomas J. McGah, Dan Lutz, Stephen Bulla, William Gordon, Lewis Buckley, Julie Giroux, Elliot Del Borgo and Jerry Seeco, as well as by the Band's Music Director Emeritus, William M. Toland, and current Music Director, Dr. William G. McManus. To commemorate the Band's 50th anniversary, Roger Cichy, a full-time composer who lives in Rhode Island, has been commissioned to write a major new work for symphonic wind ensemble. Its premiere performance will take place in March, 2009, at the Concord Band's 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert. Several of the Concord Band's commissions are now frequently found on concert band programs throughout the world.
The annual operating budget of the Band, an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is approximately $40,000. These funds, raised through ticket sales, sponsored concerts, grants and donations from individuals and the business community, pay the salaries of a professional Music Director and Assistant Conductor (the only paid participants other than professional guest artists), as well as the many other costs of operating a large community music ensemble, such as those of rehearsal and concert facilities, soloists, printed music, purchase and repair of band-owned instruments, and the commissioning of new music.
While the Concord Band must work hard each year to raise the funds necessary to keep it in operation, it also helps other non-profit organizations to raise their own funds. Each year, the Band is the drawing card for gala fund-raising pops concerts sponsored by the Emerson Hospital Auxiliary and the Concord Rotary Club. Many thousands of dollars have been raised to assist these organizations do their own good work.
Revised November 14, 2007