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

Notes from the Concord Band

Notes from the Concord Band

Since 1959..................P.O. Box 302, Concord MA 01742............Published Semi-annually

Winter/Spring 1996 Newsletter


See also Notes, Fall 1995.
McGah Photo

Work by Thomas J. McGah to be Premiered

In keeping with its long tradition of commissioning new works for concert band, the Concord Band will be presenting the world premier of Reflections of Emerson, a new composition by Boston composer Thomas J. McGah. A professor of composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, McGah has published many works in a variety of genres, including several compositions for concert band commissioned by the MIT Symphonic Band. McGah's new work is a unique composition for narrator and concert band based on writings of the great 19th century author Ralph Waldo Emerson, who lived in Concord for many years. Concord Band Music Director, Dr. William McManus, conceived the idea of commissioning a new work based on the writings of Concord authors, and the Band's Board of Directors was successful in obtaining a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support the project.

The new composition is a single movement work with five distinct sections, separated by excerpts from Emerson's writings. McGah has attempted to compose a piece to reflect musically the meaning of Emerson's words. The excerpts from Emerson's writing were selected by the composer. In the introduction to the piece, McGah says to the audience: "Let us listen and reflect upon four excerpts from Emerson's writings and ask ourselves the following–Is Ralph Waldo Emerson a man whose words speak to us 'moderns', or do his ideas and beliefs belong only to the past?"

Thomas McGah has been a member of the Berklee faculty since 1973. He holds memberships in a number of professional and musical organizations, including the Society of Composers; the International Alban Berg Society; and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).


Radio Personality Peter Ross to Narrate McGah Work

The Concord Band is honored to have veteran classical music radio announcer Peter Ross as the Narrator for the world premiere of Reflections of Emerson, Thomas J. McGah's new work for Narrator and Concert Band, which will be presented at the Band's Winter Concert on Saturday, March 2, at 51 Walden in Concord. Peter was classical music announcer for twenty years on WGBH and WBUR, and spent fifteen years as overnight host on WCRB. It is believed that his tenure at WCRB was the longest in that time period for any announcer in any format, and certainly in classical radio. Peter has a longtime interest in music for band and wind ensemble, stemming from his days as a player in high school, college, and community bands. He has served as Master of Ceremonies and commentator for several Boston Festivals of Bands, in which the Concord Band participated. Peter is also the regular concert host and commentator for the Metropolitan Wind Symphony and appears with the Patrick Gilmore Society All-State Honors Community Band, the Middlesex Community Band, the Boston University Wind Ensemble, and others. He has performed pieces for band and narrator to texts by John F. Kennedy with the Boston University Alumni Band, traditional children's and holiday stories with the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, and by Edgar Allen Poe with the Boston University Wind Ensemble.


Concert to Feature Music of Leonard Bernstein and Roger Nixon

In addition the McGah premiere, the Concord Band will be paying tribute to Leonard Bernstein by performing three of the composer's most popular works published for concert band.

Bernstein's Overture to Candide was first performed by the New York Philharmonic in 1957, with the composer conducting. Although Bernstein's comic operetta Candide was short-lived on broadway, the Overture has become a favorite in the repertoire of orchestras and bands through out the world. Although it is a very short work, lasting only three minutes, this transcription by Walter Beeler is an extremely challenging work for any band.

The second Bernstein composition will be Danzon from his ballet Fancy Free. Danzon is the third of three sailors' dances in the ballet, which was later transformed into the Broadway musical, On the Town. Danzon is an intense, emotional, Latin style piece which is sure to delight our audience.

Our tribute to Bernstein would not be complete without performing the music from his best-known musical, West Side Story. The arrangement includes many popular selections from the show.

In addition to the Bernstein works and the McGah premiere, the Band will be performing an exciting piece by Roger Nixon, entitled Fiesta del Pacifico. A festival by this name is one of several held annually in various California communities to celebrate the "Old Spanish Days" of the state. Nixon uses exciting Spanish rhythms and all the resources of the modern concert band to paint a musical portrait of this festival, held in San Diego every summer. The work features a lovely english horn solo, which will be performed by Susan Console.


Boston Band Festival

After a year's hiatus, the Concord Band will return to the Boston Band Festival at Faneuil Hall on Saturday, June 1. The Festival, sponsored by the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, features some of the most outstanding community and military bands in New England. The festival organizers are very excited that the Concord Band will be performing this year. The performance schedule has not yet been set.


To Beg, or Not to Beg...

A frequent subject of discussion at meetings of the Concord Band Board of Directors is the nature of our financial support solicitation. There are two fundamental schools of thought on this subject: to beg, or not to beg.

In the days prior to the creation of Notes (the newsletter you are now diligently reading) in 1989, our Fund Raising Director would write a cover letter to accompany a return envelope in which you would be asked to send your check. Notes was created so that we could provide concert schedules, information on recent and upcoming activities of the Band (accompanied by photos where appropriate and available), and, uh...incidentally, ask for a donation (the return envelope continuing to be enclosed).

Over the years various members of the Band Board have wondered whether we have been wasting space on the fund-raising article, the idea being that the enclosure of the return envelope makes it clear enough that we are asking for financial support. Some of these same people have even doubted that most Notes readers even bother to read the fund-raising article (suggesting that scores of Nepalese high school cricket matches would be of greater interest). To test this last theory, we are offering two free tickets to our March 2nd concert to anyone who sends a card or note with his/her name and address and the phrase "two free tickets" to the Band at the masthead address by February 22. Tickets will be held at the door.

Other Board members very much favor these articles, suggesting that their content is occasionally factual and at other times amusing, and would like to see them continue. Who can forget such articles as "Truth in Begging," or the one that provided details for leaving the bulk of your estate to the Band, or the one in which commonly asked questions about the Band are wittily answered, offending nearly everyone in the process?

What do you think? Our Fund Raising Director has offered to stop writing these articles if one thousand or more readers submit thoughtful 10,000-word essays analyzing their pros and cons, with 90% of the submissions concluding that the cons outweigh the pros. Essays should be submitted to the masthead address and will become the property of our Fund Raising Director (who threatens to publish the 20 or 30 best of them on these pages).

If you don't care one way or the other, but would like to help support the Concord Band financially so that we might continue to provide the community with the best in concert band music, please send your check in the enclosed envelope. If you have no such envelope, please send your contribution to the masthead address.


Wilson Photo

Jazz Great Phil Wilson to Appear with the Concord Band at Spring Pops

This year's Spring Pops Concerts should be swinging affairs when legendary jazz trombonist Phil Wilson takes the stage as the Concord Band's guest artist. Phil is an internationally renowned musician who has performed with such jazz greats as Louis Armstrong and Woody Herman. He initially came to prominence as first trombonist and jazz soloist with the early '60's edition of Woody Herman's "swinging herd." Wilson recorded 12 albums during his stay with the Herman Band. After 3 years with Herman, Phil joined the Dorsey Brothers Band. In 1965—after nine exhausting years of bus tours and one-night stands—he accepted a faculty position at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

During his thirty years at Berklee, Phil has established himself as one of the pioneers of jazz education. In addition to being a world-class trombonist and jazz educator, Phil is known throughout the jazz world as a first-class composer and arranger. His arrangement of the Joe Zawinul hit, Mercy, Mercy, which was recorded by the Buddy Rich Band, won him a Grammy Award nomination.

Phil has appeared as a guest artist at jazz festivals throughout the world. This past fall, he spent two weeks touring the Netherlands and recorded with the Metropol Orchestra, the radio orchestra of the Netherlands—a group that Phil has described as "one of the finest in the world." He also spent two weeks touring Sweden, featuring music from his latest CD, The Wizard of Oz Suite, with the NDR (Northern German Radio) Big Band. Phil wrote all of the arrangements on the disk and is the featured soloist with the group.

In December, Phil was honored at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston when former members of the International Dues Band, which Phil founded many years ago at Berklee, came to Boston to participate in a tribute concert in recognition of Phil's 31 years of teaching at Berklee. Many of the former members of the Dues Band are now celebrated jazz artists.

A resident of Belmont, Phil is looking forward to performing with the Concord Band at the Spring Pops concerts, sponsored each year in April by the Emerson Hospital Auxiliary and the Concord Rotary. Phil will also be performing with the Band at our Independence Day concert at Fruitlands Museums in Harvard. Among the selections he will be performing with the Band are Ed Madden's arrangement of Somewhere Oz, Phil's own arrangement (in honor of Louis Armstrong) of Sleepytime Down South, and a swinging arrangement of St. James Infirmary. Phil Wilson's appearance at Pops is sure to be one of the most exciting events of the Concord Band's 1995-96 season.

Phil Wilson plays the Conn 88-H Trombone.


Calendar of Events

Winter Concert

Saturday, March 2 at 51 Walden, Concord, 8:15 PM. For tickets call the Concord Band at (508) 897-9969.

Spring Pops

Friday and Saturday April 12 and 13. For tickets call:
  • Friday: Concord Rotary Club (508) 369-1055
  • Saturday: Emerson Hospital Auxiliary (508) 369-6815

Boston Band Festival

Saturday, June 1, Faneuil Hall, Boston. Free admission.


This page last updated: 2001/5/28
David Tweed, webmaster
© Copyright 1996
The Concord Band Association.