REVIEW: Band's sounds of the season
By Pamela J. Marshall/Special to the [Concord] Journal
Thu Mar 06, 2008, 01:44 PM EST
Concord The highlight of the Concord Band's Winter concert was
Colours by Roger Cichy, written in 1997.
The band has commissioned Cichy for its 50th anniversary concert in March
2009, and throughout this season, Music Director William McManus has been
introducing this composer to band members and audiences by programming some
of his other music.
Colours is a challenging, complex work with flavors of a big-band
The piece has six short movements, each named after a color with a
suggestive mood, such as mauve, dark ivy, amber.
At the opening, a fast fanfare motive was passed among the sections
trumpets, horns, woodwinds and everyone executed these technical
passages with panache.
The second movement included a bluesy introduction of parallel chords and a
modal melody with lovely ornaments, played with expression by the piccolo
The third movement was strongly reminiscent of Bernstein's West Side
Story and there was crisp playing from the percussion section.
The big band feeling got stronger in the fifth movement with a sax solo
that could have been in a James Bond movie; the performer appropriately
over-dramatized it with lots of vibrato, making me smile.
The last movement was up-tempo, full of irregular rhythms and rich, dark
harmonies and the brass really wailed at the climax.
Triumphant Entrance by Warren Barker, which opened the concert,
was a little rough at the beginning but the music gained its footing as the
texture got fuller.
The middle section started simply with an expressive oboe solo, reminiscent
of a show tune, joined by a horn, then all the woodwinds.
The trumpets hit their stride in the fanfare before the march returned, and
the euphoniums deliver a spirited countermelody.
A final march section was both spirited and majestic.
This piece was a 1991 commission by the band.
Assistant conductor Paul Berler led the First Suite in E♭
by British composer Gustav Holst.
This staple is at the core of the band's serious repertoire, equivalent to
the orchestra's 19th century symphonic repertoire.
All three movements are thematically tied together by using variants of the
Chaconne theme of the first movement.
The Chaconne builds grandly as the theme repeats over and over again,
played each time by different instruments, with variations in the rest of
The second movement, Intermezzo, jogged along with a sleigh-ride-like
The thinner, more transparent texture showed off the different colors of
the various solo phrases throughout the ensemble.
The final March was clean and crisp with exciting filigree decorating the
exciting Chaconne-derived tune.
Conductor Berler gave solo bows to the oboe, flute, first clarinet and
Clarinet soloist Ethan Sloane, professor at Boston University, played
the Weber Concertino in a beautifully adapted transcription for
The music demanded agile and graceful playing and Mr. Sloane delivered
brilliant runs in the fast final section.
Other music on the program included the delightful From Every
Horizon by Norman Dello Joio, a depiction of New York, originally for a
film shown at the New York World's Fair in 1964-65.
Crown Imperial March got off to a rocky start, but in the second
section the tricky interlocking rhythms were well done, and the brass
sounded majestic in the return to the march theme.
In the trio section, intonation problems were fixed and the melody, played
by saxophone with other low woodwinds, was smooth and elegant.
Welsh Variants is another band commission from 1988 and, I was
told, is a players' favorite.
The crisp snare and tambourine stood out and brilliant double-tonguing in
the fast section made a lively end to the program.
But it wasn't quite the end.
The band had a encore ready, Washington Post March.
The audience clapped along and shouted their approval at the end.
There were a few ensemble and intonation problems, particularly at the
start of several pieces, but the playing got better and better in each
piece as it went along.
The concert was full of challenging music, and the hard work of the band
members really paid off in Colours by Roger Cichy.
Based on the rich musical textures of Colours, this reviewer looks
forward to the new commissioned work next year.
Pamela J. Marshall is a composer from Lexington and a horn player in the
Find her music, music reference material, and information on recording
services at Spindrift Music Company (on the Web at www.spindrift.com).
For additional information, contact Peter Norton,
Concord Band Publicity.
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