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Press Release

For Immediate Release

Concord Band Winter Concert Showcases Old and New Works

CONCORD, MA— The Concord Band presented its annual Winter Concert on Saturday, March 8th at 51 Walden. Under the leadership of Dr. William G. McManus, Music Director and Dr. William H. Silvester, Guest Conductor, the ensemble programmed an ambitious selection of primarily contemporary works from the wind band repertoire.

A Festival Prelude, one of Alfred Reed's most widely-performed concert band works, opened the performance. While the ensemble was careful in its interpretation, this rendition was somewhat lacking in the power and energy inherent in Reed's compositions. The next piece, Repercussion by Robert H. Pearson, featured the band's highly competent percussion section. This effective work also highlighted the low woodwind section as well as flute and clarinet soloists, and provided a welcome contrast to the heavily-scored Festival Prelude.

Trumpet soloist Sam Sheeler, a recent addition to the Concord Band, performed the first movement of Oskar Böhme's Concerto in F Minor. Sheeler's assertive playing was technically proficient and balanced quite well with the band members. Likewise, the band members displayed sensitivity as they accompanied the trumpeter, although they sometimes struggled to play together, creating some slightly tentative moments. In addition, while the Concerto in F Minor is historically significant as the only authentic trumpet concerto of the Romantic Period, the piece was somewhat out of place among the program's modern concert band works.

The pinnacle of the first half of the program was the world premiere of Boston Liberties by award-winning composer Julie Giroux. Using the theme of Colonial Boston, Giroux composed four short movements, with Boston Harbor, the Boston Massacre, Granary Burying Grounds, and Boston Light as her inspiration. Giroux has composed music for more than 100 films and television programs, and her media scoring background is evident in this new composition for wind band. The result is an accessible work for musicians and listeners alike. Boston Liberties sounds well-suited to future performances by bands, with its catchy melodies and often periodic feel, particularly given the connections to our country's beginnings.

Dr. McManus returned in the second half of the concert to conduct Havendance, an exciting single-movement piece by David Holsinger. The band moved effortlessly through the extensive meter shifts, and Dr. McManus skillfully handled the complexity of the piece with precision. After Havendance Dr. McManus turned over the baton to Dr. William Silvester, presently on the faculty of the College of New Jersey.

Dr. Silvester guest conducted the band in three pieces. American Variations, composed by Jerry Bilik, was sandwiched between two widely different works by Robert Jager, Third Suite and Espirit de Corps. Bilik's work takes the familiar Scottish folk tune "Barbara Allen" and weaves it through several stylistic settings, representing America's diverse cultural heritage. The Third Suite was an appealing yet challenging piece for a guest conductor to program, and Espirit de Corps, written as a tribute to the United States Marine Band, was an uplifting and thrilling finish to the concert.

In his parting comments, Dr. Silvester was generous in his praise of the Concord Band, commending the musicians for their ability and flexibility, particularly given the difficulty of the music he had chosen for them. He also mentioned how he "broke his own rule" when he agreed to conduct a community-based band, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Concord Band is unique among organizations of its type. Given the response of the evening's audience, it appears that many local concert band music supporters hold the Concord Band in equally high regard.

—Submitted by Rosemary Sears and Richard Romanoff

Both Rosemary Sears and Richard Romanoff are instrumental music teachers in the Somerville Public Schools.

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