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Box 302, Concord, MA 01742
Tel: 978-897-9969

Press Release

For Immediate Release


Concord, Mass, February 15, 2011 — The Concord Band has become nationally acclaimed during its 50-year history for commissioning new pieces of music for concert band, and this process continues at its Winter Concert on Saturday, March 5, 2011, 8 PM, at The Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden in Concord, when the Band will present the Massachusetts premiere of Dr. Andrew Boysen, Jr.’s Twilight of the Gods.

With a reputation of both being on the cutting edge of trends in the concert band world and creating programs that challenge and entertain its players and audiences, the Band had to use some different and timely techniques to get this work written: This is the first time that the Band has been part of a consortium commission: 26 university and community bands got together in 2010 at the Western and Northwestern Division Convention of the College Band Directors National Association (of which Concord Band Music Director James O’Dell is a member) and chose Andrew Boysen, Jr. to write a major work for concert band (The Concord Band was one of just two community bands that made up the consortium). O’Dell says that the trend to commission “by consortium” is one that he thinks will be continued in forthcoming years, since “it costs a substantial amount of money to commission a piece from a top-notch composer and because college and community bands are having more difficulty finding money to fund their projects during these tough economic times.”

Commissioning new works

One question that always arises from both band and audience members in cases such as the above is: WHY do bands want to commission new works so often? The answer is that, unlike orchestras, which can draw on standard repertoire going back several hundred years (for example, works of Mozart and Beethoven), the existence of the symphonic concert band in the United States (comprised of wind, brass, and percussion instruments) is very much a 20th-century phenomenon. Aside from about half a dozen pieces written specifically for band in the mid/late 1800s, the rest of the literature was written after 1900 (starting with, some musicologists say, the famous “Suites for Band” by Gustav Holst, written in the early 1900s). Thus, the need to keep adding interesting and exciting pieces to the concert band repertoire is an ongoing process.

As Frederick Fennell (one of the most famous band conductors and music educators of the 20th century — and a former guest conductor of The Concord Band in 1983) wrote to the Band in a letter on the occasion of the Band’s 25th Anniversary, upon hearing that they were going to present a concert comprised entirely of newly commissioned pieces:

The concert band is one of those fairly recent musical organizations that doesn’t have all the great riches the symphony orchestra has — or the opera, or the oratorio or chamber music, or even popular music. We need all the music we can get. It should not be lost upon us that, without the composer, all of us [music performers and listeners] would soon be diminished. The world does have a great deal of marvelous music available ... but it isn’t a resource that just stays there. It must constantly be rejuvenated. The idea of writing new music for the concert band has become a kind of public passion in some places, and I’m very glad to say that this part of the world [The Concord Band in Concord, MA] is one of them.

The Concord Band agrees with Fennell and is very excited to be able to present the Massachusetts premiere of Boysen’s new work, Twilight of the Gods at its March 5th concert. This will be the 74th piece that the Band has either commissioned or premiered since its beginnings in 1959 — “possibly,” says Band Board member Daniel Diamond, “more than any other community band in the world.” Twilight is a dynamic and programmatic piece based on a story from Norse mythology about the battles between the gods and their adversaries, and the destruction and subsequent rebirth of the human race. (Detailed program notes for this piece are posted on the Band’s website, The Band was very fortunate to have Dr. Boysen (who is currently a professor in the music department at the University of New Hampshire) come to their rehearsal on Jan. 31 and work on the piece with them. Dr. Boysen said he was delighted to conduct the piece at rehearsal and equally glad that it was getting only its second performance here in New England, close to where he lives and works (since the University of Nevada/Reno gave the world premiere in 2010 and only two of the consortium bands were from New England states). Boysen commented to Music Director James O’Dell that he was impressed with the “seriousness” and “sense of purpose” with which the Band worked on his piece. Concord Band members said they really enjoyed working with the young, dynamic composer, and Dr. Boysen received a huge ovation from the players after his rehearsal at 51 Walden.

About the program

In keeping with the program theme of “New and Blue” (pieces that are new for the Band, have a jazz/blues feel, or are related to the color blue) is Music Director Emeritus Dr. William McManus’s Fruitlands Overture, which was written in June 2010 to celebrate the Band”s 25th Anniversary of performing summer-time outdoor concerts at Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA. The Overture (McManus”s first original piece for concert band, is lively, full of mixed meters with a “cool jazz” middle section — thus, both “new” and “blue”) will be conducted by the newly appointed Assistant Conductor of The Concord Band, Steven Barbas (a music teacher at Waltham High School); Barbas is also a member of the clarinet section of the Band, which he joined in 2004. Barbas took a few years off recently to get his Masters of Music degree from Northwestern University, after which he returned to the New England area, rejoined The Concord Band, and became a music faculty member in the Waltham public school system.

The Concord Band members are very enthusiastic about the fact that McManus has maintained ties with the group as composer and arranger after his retirement as music director in 2009 (he has also written jazz charts for jazz vocalist Amanda Carr and the Band). The Overture was premiered at Fruitlands Museum on June 30, 2010, with the composer conducting.

The program also includes Roger Cichy’s masterwork, Colours (an impressionistic work inspired by the symbolism of various colors), with each of the six movements representing a particular color (extensive program notes are also on the Band&rsquot;s website). The Band first performed Colours in 2008, as McManus was acquainting them with the works by Cichy, who wrote the Band’s 50th Anniversary commissioned piece, Flowing Pens from Concord. Also on the program are Firework! by Dutch composer Jan Van der Roost, that reflects the power and virtuosity of the modern concert band; Three Jazz Moods by John Lewis; Ralph Vaughan WilliamsSea Songs; and selections from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

Assistant Publicist and piccolo player Laura Finkelstein says,

I think this is one of the most exciting programs the Band has put together in many years. It reflects all the things that make The Concord Band so special: the premiere of a new piece for concert band; the chance to work personally with the composer; the opportunity to continue to collaborate with former Music Director Bill McManus in his capacity as a composer/arranger; the introduction of Steve Barbas as the new, and excellent, Assistant Conductor of the Band; and a program created by current Music Director Jim O’Dell that is a wonderful mix of new and jazz-influenced pieces, each one having its own “bright” and “cool” sections.

Tickets for The Concord Band’s 2011 Winter Concert on March 5 are $15 ($5 for seniors and students) and will be available at the door the night of the concert. For more extensive details on this concert (and many other concerts coming up in the spring and summer), visit the Band’s website at:, or call the Band telephone line at: 978-897-9969. Also visit The Concord Band’s Facebook Page and watch videos of past concerts on the “Video on Demand” section of the website of CCTV/Concord-Carlisle Cable Access Television (

— Laura Finkelstein, Assistant Publicist

For additional information, contact Peter Norton, Concord Band Publicity. Visit our website at

This page last updated: 2011/3/5
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