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Coda Connections
Columbia Bands Quarterly Newsletter
Winter 2009-10

CONTENTS
News & Calendar - Winter 2009-10
Feature - Why Pops Concerts Are Unique
Behind the Baton - Director's Thoughts
Fun Stuff - A few words about...
Official CCB/CJB Positions - People in Charge
Contact Information

Greetings!

REMINDER: The next concert is this Sunday at 3:00. We'd love to see you there! Please check the calendar below for details.

Also, stay tuned in 2010 for an exciting announcement about the growth of our organization!

This edition of Coda Connections features some personal thoughts about Pops concerts, and some reminiscences from concert band director Mike Blackman.

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I encourage all CCB/CJB fans and members to speak up if there's a particular music-related subject that you would like to see featured in Coda Connections; please remember that your feedback is important to the growth and success of this publication.

Please send me a message if:
- Your email changes and you'd like to keep getting this newsletter, OR
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Thanks!

- Len Morse, Editor

News & Calendar
 

Winter News

The concert band is ready to bring you some fantastic holiday music, and the jazz band is preparing for a January concert, as well as another European tour next summer.

Winter Calendar - Concert Band

December:
  Sun, 12/13, 3:00-4:00PM, River Hill High School, Clarksville, MD

Winter Calendar - Jazz Band

January:
  Sun, 1/31, 3:00-4:00PM, River Hill High School, Clarksville, MD

Feature
by Len Morse (Editor)     Musical notes on staff
Why Pops Concerts Are Unique

Say the words "classical music" to the average person and what will they think of? They may rattle off a couple of well-known composers, like Mozart or Beethoven, or perhaps the name of an internationally known group, like the London Symphony Orchestra. But say "pops concert" to that same person, and what do you get?

Aside from the word "Boston," probably not much more than a quizzical look.

The fact is that dozens of American orchestras (yes, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra) have expanded their normal repertoire to include pops, or "popular" music, for many years. Where are some of these groups? Literally everywhere: Cincinnati, Harvard, Reno, New York, Denver, Pittsburgh, Maui, Sarasota, and yes, our own Maryland, Baltimore, and Annapolis orchestras each have a pops series and director. Need I even mention Washington's National Symphony?

But what exactly IS "popular" music? Back when he founded the Boston Symphony Orchestra, director Henry Lee Higginson wanted to re-create the exuberant, relaxed, danceable concerts that one could hear in the city parks and recital halls of Vienna and other Western European cities. Forget this serious atmosphere that seems to keep concertgoers at bay, sitting still, with nary a cough among them.

Indeed, one of the most prominent European directors currently leading his own chamber orchestra (to the delight of uncountable worldwide fans) is violinist Andre Rieu. Part of his philosophy is to allow the natural audience participation that goes along with true enjoyment of a live musical performance. He even lets his musicians have a little fun (impromptu solos and choreography have been known to happen). Catch him if you can.

So the intent is a lighter, toe-tapping musical fare, and it is pretty much everywhere. What can you expect at one of these pops concerts?

Nowadays, just about anything goes (within the confines of reason and decency). Maestro Rieu delivers a cornucopia of different styles, along with singing, dancing, and maybe even a few costume changes. If you go to New York's Radio City Rockettes Christmas show, you could consider this a sort of pops concert. But if there's one thing you should expect from a truly remarkable pops concert, it is the unexpected.

Earlier in 2009 Erich Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops director and 2008 American Classical Music Hall of Fame inductee, conducted the National Symphony Orchestra at one of Washington D.C.'s premier outdoor venues, Wolftrap Farm Park. The concert theme was a familiar one - a tribute to the film music of composer John Williams, featuring themes from Superman, Star Wars, and many other well-known movies.

The program was fantastic and Kunzel's banter with the audience was light and fun, but some audience members may have been slightly shocked to see Star Wars characters strolling across the stage during that part of the concert, from stormtroopers to sandpeople (look up Star Wars on IMDB.com if you're not sure what those are). It was definitely unusual, and certainly not normal for a "classical music" concert.

Additionally, the encore treated everyone to more unexpected sights. As the NSO played the jaunty Cantina tune from Star Wars, creating a more relaxed atmosphere, the characters came out again. The maestro had a seconds-long duel with Darth Vader: Baton versus lightsabre, while the rest of the "cast" stood out front and enjoyed themselves. You haven't lived until you've seen about a dozen stormtroopers dancing the Cabbage Patch at Wolftrap's Filene Center.

These are just a few examples of what can happen when a little fun is infused into a concert. So, the next time you have a chance to see the pops, go with an open mind and enjoy any (planned) extracurricular events!

Behind the Baton
by Mike Blackman (Concert Band Director)     Conductor
Dear Friends of the Columbia Concert Band,

As I enter my 24th year with this amazing community band, I thought I might take a moment and see what I can remember about the ensemble's history and my own connection to it.

In the Fall of 1986, I had just started my senior year of high school, right here in Howard County. The music scene at my high school was, shall we say, "not too active" and, on a recommendation from a friend, I decided to check out the Columbia Concert Band.

What a pleasure it was to spend an evening each week with adults who loved music and loved playing their instruments. The director at that time was Ron Friedman, a horn player who still performs locally, and the rehearsals took place in the Band Room at Dunloggin Middle School. We had no trouble working in that facility because the group was rather small. There were some fine players in the ensemble, and everyone was very friendly. After rehearsals we often went out for food and beverages at "The Last Chance Saloon" in the Oakland Mills Village Center. I have fond memories of those social outings, especially the variety of advice I received on everything from college selection to my future romantic endeavors.

Around 1990, the baton was passed from Ron Friedman to Robert Miller who, along with his daughter, Arielle, currently plays in our percussion section. Robert brought a great deal of enthusiasm and a large body of musical repertoire to the group. He also created what is now the Columbia Jazz Band out of members of the Concert Band. We rehearsed in a variety of places - Oakland Mills High School, Hammond High School, Howard High School, Rockland Arts Center - before settling in the building where Robert taught, Hammond Middle School.

We stayed at Hammond until after I took over as Director, and then, thanks to the reputation that Robert had established, the Band simply got too large. I moved the group to River Hill High School, and attempted to "take the ball and run with it" by seeking out quality literature, and by continuing to schedule formal concerts every May and December, a Children's concert every Fall, and a couple of outdoor performances each Summer. We have made multiple appearances at Maryland Community Band Day and the Maryland Music Educators' Convention, and have even commissioned new works for concert band. In many ways, we are continually growing and evolving, and that makes leading the ensemble very gratifying indeed.

Here's to community music, and here's to the Columbia Concert Band! Thanks for your ongoing support!

Musically,

Mike Blackman, CCB Director

Visit our archive of previous performances

Fun Stuff
   
Quarterly Word: "Mute"; Device used to soften or change the sound of an instrument. Mutes exist for all instrument families, but are most often utilized with brass. Some types include the straight, cup, harmon, plunger, and practice mutes.

Quarterly Quote: "There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: Music and cats." ~ Albert Schweitzer

Official CCB/CJB Positions
   

Elected Executive Board

President - Bob Frantz
Vice President - Len Morse
Secretary - Carolyn Hipkins
Treasurer - Aileen Borders
Historian - Melinda Frisch
Publicity Chair - TBA
Fundraising Chair - TBA
Equipment Manager - Len Morse
Grants, Programs - Jeanette Donald
HCAC Liason - Tanya Hoegh-Allan
Members-at- Large - Jenn Ambrosiano-Reedholm, Jim Kaiser, Russell Perkins, Sam Stern, Woody Wingfield, Kathleen Shoemaker

Appointees and Volunteers

CCB Director - Mike Blackman
Librarian - Marilyn Kelsey
Curator - Jeanette Donald (Acting)
Uniforms - Bill DeVuono
Insurance Liason - Jenn Ambrosiano-Reedholm
CCB-CJB Liason - Russell Perkins
CCB Webmaster - Suzanne Hassell
CJB Director - Pete Barenbregge
CJB Webmaster - Matt Williams

 

Contact Information

phone: 301-598-4587
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Columbia Concert Band | PO Box 2713 | Columbia | MD | 21045-1713