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Biographical Sketches

William M. Toland William M. Toland

The Concord Band, Music Director Laureate

William Toland was musical director of the Concord Band from 1962 to 1995, and has directed wind ensemble, concert band, jazz ensemble, pit orchestra, and marching band in public schools for many years. During his teaching career, Toland taught courses in theory and composition, electronic music, and humanities. He has received the DeMolay Award for Exemplary Teaching, the Lowell Mason Award for Outstanding Leadership in Music Education from the Massachusetts Music Educators Association, a Citation of Excellence from the National Band Associations, as well as awards from the Association of Concert Bands and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Concerned with the opportunities for modern composers, he has been active in the commissioning of many new works for band. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Concord Band, Toland directed the band in a program of new works expressly written for that concert.

Active as a composer, he uses the computer as a tool for musical composition, using Professional Composer software to enter his composition and arrangements. Many of his compositions have been played by the band.

He holds a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music Education from Boston University and the University of Lowell, respectively.

Mr. Toland also composed several pieces that the band has performed, including Concord 350 (1985), Pennyghael (1987), Suite for Woodwinds (1990), Go Down, Moses (1993), Short Fanfare for a Happy Occasion (1995) and Solstice (1995).

William Toland passed away on January 25, 2012. To help keep his memory alive, here are some of his own words, taken from the Band’s 50th Anniversary book (2009). You can also visit his memorial site.

From a March 1987 letter to the Band after the concert commemorating his 25th anniversary as Music Director:

What a night!

Thank you all for a wonderful concert, and for all the surprises accorded me commemorating my 25 years with the Band.

Here are a few comments by others relative to the concert:

From the Back Bay Brass: “It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for all of us in the quintet ... [We were] particularly impressed by the high standards ... and the professionalism of each member of the ensemble.”

From Jim Curnow [inscribed on my score (Five Concord Diversions)]: “This has been an excellent weekend ... You have a fine organization.”

From Louise Goni in The Concord Journal: “The Band played with proficiency and musicianship few community bands can equal.”

We had enough bells and whistles for this concert. A major commission with the composer conducting, a fine guest quintet, and several challenging and exciting selections to round out the program. I was, however, not prepared for the remainder of the events of the evening.

Now, I had to know that something was in the wind — I’ve never been given such a rush out of the hall after rehearsals in my life. But I figured you were having a brief meeting. Little did I realize you had another rehearsal! What a surprise to hear Toland’s March written by friend and colleague, Peter Hazzard, and conducted by another dear friend and colleague, John Corley.

The surprise segment of the concert was certainly a surprise and a special and delightful one. But I had no hint of what was to come.

The trip to Scotland was so very unsuspected; I just assumed the festivities were over with the concert. If you know what the “M.” stands for, you’ll understand that I’ve always wanted to visit my ancestral origins and thanks to you all, I’ll do just that.

Thank you all for 25 years of devotion to music, loyalty to the Band, and affection towards me.

From a letter to the Band in May/August 1995, after his retirement as Music Director:

Dear Band,

Thanks to you all for a terrific farewell party and a wonderful last year of concerts. If I knew it would be that much fun, I would have retired long ago! Seriously, it was great to see you all with your families in an informal social way. It was a great occasion.

Among my best musical memories will be those final concerts. You’ve grown so much musically over the years and I felt that the Fall, Holiday, Winter, and Spring concerts were all superb and that they represented my tenure in a magnificent way. I will always remember them. On a personal level, the “Bill Book” is a monumental feeling for the warmth and friendship I feel from each of you. I’ll always cherish it. I also want to acknowledge my debt to the Band Board, past and present, for all their support, encouragement, and patience over the years. I encourage each of you to serve on the board at some time. The board does an enormous amount of work to keep the Band running and I think each of you would find it a satisfying experience.

Whether you are a recent member of the Band or a 36-year veteran, I salute you for your hard work and effort and your personal friendship with me. I wish each of you and your families the best in the years to come. Have a great 37th season!

With the greatest affection,
Bill Toland

From an article by Ellen Denison in The Oct. 13, 1994 Concord Journal, entitled “Concord Band leader leaves with crescendo”:

Bill Toland, music director since 1962, will be departing the Band and the Concord area at the end of this musical year, and seasoning his departure is his own knowledge that his final season will demand amazing things of him.

“I have a great attachment for the pieces coming up,” says Toland. “We’ve eaten up a lot of literature in our years, and I look forward this year to doing a little retrospective, what I think of as the outstanding pieces from all our years together.“

“The most significant thing we’ve done in all this time,“ says Toland, with palpable satisfaction, “is commissioning new works” ... Toland also cites the importance to the Band of featuring guest soloists and conductors. “The Concord Band began as a marching band one Patriot’s Day, but as time went by we became more of a community band, attracting more experienced band musicians and eventually more guest conductors and soloists. We now have a roster of over 70 musicians and perform, collectively, over 100 pieces a season.”

Of his leave-taking, Toland says, after some thought, “It’s very interesting. I’ve known about this for some time, and so have been working up to it. But I will certainly miss the Band, in particular some of the people who have been with me for 30-plus years. The friendships will be the major thing I miss.”

Toland became music director for the Band in 1962, and credits the broad boundaries of the position to the Band having reached creative pinnacles and new peaks of public popularity in the last several years. Others credit Toland’s own forward-looking nature. His leaving is timely, but not easy. “Yet,” he says, “I feel a good sense of satisfaction about the things the Band has accomplished.”

“I have a lot of reflection and memories of the Band,” says Toland of his much credited tenure as director. “But right now they’re alive and with me.” Brimming with purpose and animation about the season ahead, Bill Toland begins his final gracious walk to the podium.

From a letter dated March 20, 2009:

Hi, Dan.

Have you set a date for the next 50th Anniversary Concert?

It certainly was a terrific event. I was very pleased withe the Band’s performance. My thanks to all, my old friends and the new players.

The event was excellent. I had a chance to have all my children together at one time. It was a rare occasion. Besides that I saw in the audience, many past players, and had a chance to visit with some after the concert. I had another surprise...somewhere close to 50 of my high school band members were present and we had a nice reunion after the concert. My kids all commented on the wonderful, in fact magic, atmosphere of the concert and the visits with old friends and students after words.

My thanks to you, Charlie and the rest of the Board and all the Band members for an exciting night of music and friendship. Thanks to all for making it work so smoothly.

My best to Jim and all of you for continued success and a great future.

Kindest regards,
Bill

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