Concord Band “Flights of Fancy” Honors Women in the Air Force
Concord, Mass, February 11, 2014 —
The Concord Band’s March 8, 2014 Winter Concert theme is
“Flights of Fancy,” but it could just as well be
In January 2014, the Concord Band received a national award for community
bands, the Sudler Silver Scroll Award, presented each year by the John
Philip Sousa Foundation to one or two bands in North America that have
“demonstrated particularly high standards of excellence in music
presentation, and have played a significant and leading role in the
cultural and musical environment in their respective communities.“
One of the pieces Music Director Jim O’Dell has chosen is
Aerial Fantasy by the contemporary Maryland composer Michael
Mogensen who was nominated for a 2007 Pulitzer Prize for that composition.
Rhode Island composer and Concord Band favorite Roger Cichy wrote
Wings Across America in honor of the World War II era Women Airforce
Service Pilots or WASPs.
Whether ferrying military from one location to another, test flying
aircraft, flight instructing or towing target for artillery practice, the
women of the WASPs carried out their assigned duties with courage, guts,
and skill and served as role model for later women astronauts and USAF
The WASPs received the 2010 Air Force Association Lifetime Achievement
Award, although an award they never received was GI benefits and they were
not even acknowledged as Veterans until 1977.
Lewis Buckley, retired conductor of the US Coast Guard Band, is a
composer and trumpet soloist while he conducts the Metropolitan Wind
Lew arranged Dixieland Live! on commission from the Concord Band and
played the trumpet part in the Concord Band’s Dixieland ensemble that
was featured at the Concord Band’s 50th anniversary concert in 2009.
He returns as trumpet soloist on March 8 to perform two of his own
compositions for trumpet.
Originally called Bell-Flight, Buckley renamed his 1980s composition
A Tribute to Doc in honor of trumpeter and band leader Doc
Buckley wrote it for a Coast Guard Band trumpet soloist and said that he
renamed it, “because it was Doc’s great playing that inspired
my younger years and the style of the piece.”
Buckley’s Yellow Rose of Texas Variations were also written for a
Coast Guard Band soloist, this time a euphonium player.
Following the form of the famous Carnival of Venice variations, the piece
is designed to display the soloist’s virtuosity.
Because the piece is so popular, Buckley has arranged it for various other
soloists including trumpet, which will give Buckley a second opportunity to
demonstrate his virtuosity to the appreciative Concord Band audience.
A native and resident of Hagerstown, MD, composer, arranger, conductor
and French horn player Michael A. Mogensen (b. 1973) is an alumnus of the
music schools of James Madison University and Ithaca College.
Commissioned by The United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C.,
Aerial Fantasy is a work inspired by the thrill and exhilaration of
According to Mogensen’s program notes, music stands as one of the
ultimate expressions of human emotion and spirit, and few fantasies evoke
more excitement than flying through air and space.
He says that Aerial Fantasy utilizes a variety of musical elements
to symbolize the concept of flying.
Ascending motives, quick tempi, energetic rhythms, and soaring melodies and
countermelodies all contribute to the desired depiction.
The music concludes in dramatic and invigorating fashion, encompassing in
his words “an awesome display of speed, power, precision and
agility—characteristics synonymous with America’s magnificent
Air Force and with every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.”
The same characteristics Mogensen mentions apply to the WASPs and
Cichy said, “I chose this topic primarily because these women were a
huge inspiration during a very challenging time in U.S. history.
I think this is a perfect story to put to a musical setting”.
Following a celebratory fanfare to the WASPs that opens the composition,
the work dramatically turns to America at war and the need for all
Americans to contribute to the war effort in some form or another.
The musical textures become very martial in demeanor reflecting the
military training of women preparing to become WASPs.
From rigorous advanced flight training, advanced ground schooling, company
drills and physical conditioning, Cichy uses a variety of musical devices
to portray this period.
Melodies made up of bugle calls, march-like textures, and an embedded Morse
code repeating strand of WASP (· ·
··· ··) are all employed to
characterize the WASPs in training.
At various times during the piece, Cichy throws in short paraphrases of
“The Air Force Song” or “Off We Go, Into the Wild Blue
Yonder” as short reminders of the capacity in which these women were
willing to serve.
(click to enlarge)
Cichy’s reminders and tributes in Wings Across America are
in sharp contrast to some of the ways that WASPs were overlooked in
Although the training they received was nearly identical to what male Army
Air Force pilots received and they reported to military commanders, WASPs
were civilians (albeit with their own distinctive uniforms) and received
2/3 the pay of male pilots.
Records of their service were classified “confidential” and
filed away in government archives for 33 years, and they were not eligible
for military benefits or honors.
Of the 38 WASPs who were killed in accidents during the two-and-a-half year
life of the WASPs, one WASP’s parents received an official telegram
of her death: “Your daughter was killed this morning. Where do you
want us to ship the body?”
In 1977, Congress passed legislation acknowledging the WASPs’ service
and making them military veterans eligible for benefits. The Concord Band
honors these women with its performances of Cichy’s and
The Concord Band’s “Flights of Fancy” concert will be
held at the Performing Arts Center in Concord, Massachusetts, at 51 Walden
Street on Saturday March 8, 2014, at 8:00 pm.
In honor of those now serving in the Air Force, active duty USAF personnel
will be admitted free.
Others in the Hanscom AFB community may attend for half price.
Tickets are available at the Concord Band website www.concordband.org or at
the door and are $20 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.
For additional information, contact Kenneth Troup,
Concord Band Publicity.
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