The Concord Band Presents A Tribute to Bill Toland (review)
Concord, Mass, October 27, 2012 —
William M. Toland, the soul behind the Concord Band from 1962 until 1995
and a continuing influence on the hearts and minds of the musicians in the
band, passed from this world in January of 2012.
The band, under the direction of current Music Director Jim O’Dell and
(director of the band from 1995 – 2009, now Director Emeritus),
offered up their musical tribute to Bill’s memory this weekend in a
stellar performance at the Bedford High School Auditorium, the school where
he helped to shape the minds and spirits of a multitude of young musicians
from 1957 through 1984.
The program was a mosaic of compositions by Toland himself, beloved works
commissioned during his tenure (from a total of 76 over the years) and other
pieces he particularly favored.
The evening also featured the world premiere of Elegy by Dr. McManus,
a composition dedicated to the memory of Bill Toland.
The program began with Fanfare for a Festive Day by Roger Cichy.
This spirited work opened a concert that was filled with energy and tonal
The band truly showed the love they hold for Bill in their enthusiastic
performance and attention to intonation.
Each subsequent piece was introduced by either a member of the band or
someone who has had their life touched by Bill Toland as a student or as a
Whether it was the words of Dan Diamond, now in his 44th year as senior
percussionist with the band – as he says himself, it’s just because he
got there first – or John Ferrillo, a former student and currently a
professional musician (in truth he has been principal oboe with the Boston
Symphony Orchestra since 2001), one common thread passes through each
description of how Bill touched the lives of his students and colleagues:
He was always a coach, a cheerleader, a promoter of the welfare of all those
with whom he worked.
Pennyghael, a piece composed in 1987 by Toland, features several
themes based on Scottish folk songs.
The lovely, voluptuous tones of solo work by oboist Louanne Mackenzie and
the clear brilliance of Dave Southard’s saxophone solo were augmented
by the bright jewels of piccolo, produced by Laura Finkelstein.
The band expressed great affection in the care and precision of their
performance, and the overall effect was uplifting.
Satiric Dances, by Norman Dello Joio, is a composition commissioned
by Toland in 1975 for a concert coinciding with the celebration of the April
19, 1775 Bicentennial.
This piece is one of the most highly regarded commissions of all time, being
played by more high school and concert bands across the country than any
Bill conducted this great work for the last time at the Concord Band’s
50th anniversary concert in March, 2009.
This weekend’s performance was tight and clean, from the opening
trumpet call and playful rhythms in the woodwinds of the first movement, to
the sweet, mysterious strains of the second movement.
The driving theme of the third and final movement used the bass line against
the high winds to produce a thrilling result, of which I am sure Bill would
have been most proud.
Claude T. Smith was a favorite composer and contemporary of Bill’s,
and his Eternal Father, Strong to Save is a masterful rendering of the
official hymn of the U.S. Navy.
This is a difficult piece, played with great care and mastery by the Concord
The French horns, in particular, have a very exposed line throughout.
Their masterful performance in the opening theme and throughout the chorale
section earns them the shining star for this stirring work.
Nimrod is the name given to the fifth of fourteen variations
contained in the Enigma Variations of Sir Edward Elgar.
This piece was requested by Bill to be played at the band’s Winter 2012
concert, and was reprised here this weekend.
This evocative piece stirs the emotions and touches the heart.
The love with which the band played for Bill was evident in their controlled
intonation and attention to dynamics.
When played with such care, you will seldom find a dry eye in the
The last piece before intermission was Frank Ticheli’s
Ticheli was always a favorite composer of Bill Toland’s, and he
selected many of his works for performance throughout his tenure with the
This piece is extremely complex, with compound rhythms and a fast pace that
is breathtaking in its textural variety.
The band was tight and alert, with everyone executing their parts with
accuracy and brilliance.
When everyone does their job in this manner, the result is fascinating,
Congratulations on a job very well done!!
The first piece after intermission was the concert march
Proud Heritage by William Latham.
This sterling work was executed with clean professionalism and set the scene
for a delightful second half of the program.
William Schuman, in 1956, composed a work in three movements,
New England Triptych, of which the third movement is named
This tune is based on a famous American Revolutionary Hymn by William
This piece, which was much loved by Bill Toland, was performed with great
care and mastery by the band.
The piece began with a soft, controlled chorale, which gave way to a sharp,
rapid fire section that resolves to a smooth strong final statement of the
The dynamic expression and control displayed by the band was
Bill McManus’ composition, Elegy, was lovingly written in
memory of Bill Toland, and was conducted by the composer himself in this
It contains two themes, first a melancholy remembrance and second, a
It begins with a trumpet solo played artfully by Arthur Magazu, accompanied
by gentle tympani, played by Steve Polit.
This plaintive theme builds to enfold the entire band, and grows into the
uplifting hymn-like section.
The chorale shines for a few brief moments before submitting once again to a
quiet, contemplative and sweet reiteration of the initial theme.
The audience response to this piece was spontaneous, rousing applause, which
was truly well-deserved.
Next up on the program, the antepenultimate piece, as Bill would have said,
was Welsh Variants, a 1988 commission piece written by James Curnow.
This piece is based on a Welsh folk song as showcased in the feature film
Empire of the Sun.
It began with a sweet and moving oboe solo by Louanne Mackenzie, echoed by
the silvery tones of Barbara Weiblen on flute.
It shifts to a rousing theme, enthusiastically embraced by the entire band.
The third theme begins with a gentle, legato oboe joined again by the flutes
and builds to the heights, to subside into a wistful oboe, accompanied by
the saxophone artistry of Dave Southard.
Intonation is crucial in this exposed strain, and to use the vernacular,
they nailed it.
The fourth and final theme starts with a rousing and energetic example of
outstanding ensemble performance which builds to a magnificent reiteration
of the main theme in brass choir, with solo line again provided by Arthur
This piece has always been a favorite of the band and the audience, with good
This weekend’s performance was no exception.
El Capitan, by John Philip Sousa, is a great crowd pleaser and was
one of Bill’s favorite marches.
The band performed it with tight accuracy and wonderful dynamic control.
Bill would have been proud of this performance, I am sure.
The final piece of the evening was Bill Toland’s own arrangement of
Auld Lang Syne.
This has been the signature closing piece of every Concord Band Holiday Pops
concert since Bill penned this version.
The band played it with grace and emotion as they paid their last respects
to their beloved band director.
So long, Bill.
You graced our lives with music, love and laughter, and you will not soon be
Have a wonderful journey through forever.
Vanessa Rene is a marketing and technical specialist in the magnetic
fluids division of Ferrotec (USA) Corporation, in Bedford NH.
She has been an oboist for 43 years and was a member of the Concord Band from
1989 until 2008.
She lives in Lowell, MA with her husband and has three grown children and one
grandson, two and a half year old Dexter.
She is a 34 year member of the Chelmsford Community Band and a new member of
the Carlisle Community Chorus.
For additional information, contact Peter Norton,
Concord Band Publicity.
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