Sunday, July 26, 2009

An important anniversary

Back in 1909, band music was changed forever. A number of composers began writing for wind band, called Military Band at the time. The first big piece composed for band was done 100 years ago by Englishman Gustav Holst, the First Suite in Eb for Military Band.

Up to this point, band music was marches and orchestral transcriptions. Holst was the first to use the color and texture of the band instrumentation in his original music.

The Eb Suite is still one of the most widely played in band literature. One of the things I find amazing is that, given the number of times I've heard the piece, it does not grow old. To me, that is a true mark of greatness.

A number of British composers followed Holst and wrote original music for band. Because of this movement for band music in England, we have the Vaughn-Williams Folk Song Suite and Toccata Marziale, and we have so many pieces from Percy Grainger and Gordon Jacob.

My guess is that you will hear many of these pieces this summer at your favorite band concerts. The wonderful band music being written today traces it roots back to this movement in England a century ago. And we get to enjoy it all!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A number of things this week...

Hope you were at the last Shorewood Concert Band concert of the season. Lot's of fun with circus music. And a lot of pennies were collected for the Shorewood High School Band fund. Hopefully they will add up.

And a special note from Dr. Pat Backhaus of the Milwaukee Festival Brass, Milwaukee's only British style Brass Band. She tells me that MFB will be holding auditions for the soprano e-flat cornet slot for the coming season. If you are interested or need more information, send an email to Dr. Pat at:, or call 262-385-9627.

I have an update on the concerts in Racine. Music Director Mark Eichner is celebrating the music of English composers for band this season. Here is an update of the remaining concerts, including soloists and featured music.

July 19 at 7:30 - Diane Cosmala is featured on clarinet. The featured music is the English Folk Song Suite of Ralph Vaughn Williams.

July 26 at 7:30 - Rick Sunier performs Spanish Dance Number 5 from Enrique Granados on the euphonium. Vocalist Allison Hull joins the band for some music from opera and a little Gershwin. The concert also features three movements from the Moorside Suite bu Gustav Holst.

August 2 at 7 PM - Besides a wonderful flute duet featuring Beth Kapralian and Vera Olguin, Gregory Berg from Gateway Technical Institute performing music of the Gershwins and Lerner and Lowe. Gordon Jacob's Original Suite is featured on the program.

August 9 at 7 PM - Katherine Hall performs Gabriel's Oboe from The Mission, and vocalist Aimee Hall, a former UW-Parkside student, performs some popular favorites. Sea Songs by Ralph Vaughn Williams is the featured piece.

August 16 at 7 PM - The annual Children's concert featuring a trumpet trio, and Michael Snider narrating The Bremen Town Musicians. And there may be a chance for the kids in the audience to conduct the band...

August 23 at 7 PM - The finale of the summer season features Music Director Mark Eichner performing the Trumpet Concerto in D by Tartini, and wonderful standards sung by Jeannie Hatfield, a former Miss Racine.

The concerts are all held at Zoo Park. Admission to the park for the concerts only are free. You will need to pay admission to the Zoo if you come earlier in the afternoon (fair is fair).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Concert Updates

I now have the list of concerts for the summer season of the Racine Concert Band, but before I list them, just a reminder that this Thursday is the final concert of the summer season for the Shorewood Concert Band. It will be at 7 PM in Atwater Park (corner of Capitol Drive and Lake Drive). The concert will feature the music of the Circus. Be sure to check your chairs and couches for pennies and bring them to the concert. The penny drive will benefit the band program at Shorewood High School. My guess is that if you bring other money, they will accept that as well. See you there.

Now on the the Racine Band. Each concert has at least one Sousa March and one other march. The concerts usually also feature a famous classical piece. And every concert will have a special guest, some from the band itself, and others from the area. Here's the concert schedule with the start times:
July 12 - 7:00
July 19 - 7:30
July 26 - 7:30
August 2 - 7:00
August 9 - 7:00
August 16 - 7:00
August 23 - 7:00

All of the concerts are at the Racine Zoo. While the Zoo charges admission during the day, there is no cost to attend the concert (as long as you don't arrive 5 hours early). Bring a lawn chair or blanket. The concert stage is at the bottom of a hill, giving a nice sound to everyone sitting on the hill - a natural amphitheater!

So be sure to take in one of the concerts - or maybe all. The price is right and so is the music!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A belated Happy Independence Day

I trust you enjoyed the celebrations in your area, the parades, the picnics, and hopefully a concert. Certainly the fireworks!

I was able to enjoy a performance of the UW Badger Band. As always, a great show.

But the summer concerts continue. This Wednesday is a performance of the Whitefish Bay Community Band at 7 PM in the park across from the library. And next Sunday begins the summer concert series by the Racine Concert Band at the Racine Zoo.

There are performances all over. If you are in the far western suburbs, the Oconomowoc Legion Band continues their summer performances this Wednesday evening.

Lots to enjoy. Take in a community band concert! I know you'll have a good time.