The Westfield Community Concert band will present its annual Spring Concert on Friday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Helen’s Church, 1600 Rahway Avenue in Westfield.  Dr. Thomas Connors, conductor and music director of the band, has prepared a program which is highlighted by important classical and contemporary selections for wind band. 

The program will feature many of the band’s first chair musicians performing solos in selections throughout the concert.   “We are very fortunate to have so many talented musicians perform with the band and look forward to these special solo performances,” added Dr. Connors. 

The program will include American Overture for Band, written by Joseph Wilcox Jenkins in 1953 for the U.S. Army Field Band.  American Overture is also known for the virtuoso playing it requires of the French horn players. It is the most popular work of this American composer and was also his first composition for band.

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The band’s next selection is by Frank Erickson, a composer, conductor, arranger, and author of books on band method who also wrote and arranged many well-known wind band compositions.  Written by Erickson in 1953, Deep River Suite consists of variations on popular spiritual selections, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, “Deep River” and “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho”. 

Ladies in Lavender was written in 2004 by Nigel Hess for the feature film of the same name starring Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith, and directed by Charles Dance. This composition, the theme from the film, was recently performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra with violinist Joshua Bell and trumpeter Chris Botti.  Hess studied at the University of Cambridge and became an award-winning British composer and conductor of music for TV, film, theatre and the concert platform.  The band’s performance of this selection will feature soloist Brittany Reich on flute.  Ms. Reich, a resident of Mountainside, has been with the band for five years. 

Winter Dances, written in 2002 by Irish composer Fergal Carrol, will next be performed by the band in three parts:  November, December and January. The center movement, December, is gentle and reflective and is flanked by more up-tempo movements.  Mr. Carrol, a music educator, has become a popular composer and conductor throughout Great Britain.

While serving in Seoul, Korea as a member of the Eighth United States Army Band, American composer John Barnes Chance encountered “Arirang,” a traditional folk song sung by native Koreans when experiencing circumstances of national crisis. Chance overheard “Arirang” while riding a public bus in Korea and later incorporated it into his work, Variations on a Korean Folk Song. This selection in the band’s program is comprised of a theme and five distinct variations.  In 1966, Variations on a Korean Folk Song was awarded the American Bandmaster’s Association’s Ostwald Composition Award and the piece remains a standard of band repertoire today.

he Engulfed Cathedral is one of Claude Debussey's most beautiful works of impressionism. The band will perform a Merlin Patterson transcription of Debussy's La Cathédrale engloutie, which originally appeared in Book I of Claude Debussy's PRÉLUDES; it is one of his best known and most popular of Debussy’s works, not only in its original version for solo piano, but also in its numerous transcriptions, the most notable of which is the orchestral setting by Leopold Stokowski. The Engulfed Cathedral depicts an old legend from Brittany: To punish the people for their sins, the Cathedral of Ys is engulfed by the sea. Each sunrise the townspeople watch as the sunken cathedral rises from the water and then sinks slowly into the ocean.

The band’s concert program concludes with The Lochnager Suite by Nigel Hess.  Written in 2007, the composition originates from “The Old Man of Lochnagar” a children’s book written by HRH The Prince of Wales. The story revolves around an old man who lives in the cliff caves near the royal estate of Balmoral in Scotland, where the Royal Family spends much of its summer holidays. In 2007, the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain received permission to create a new ballet based on this story, for which Hess wrote the score. This composition is a three-movement suite for wind band based on the composer’s ballet score of the same name. The Dance of the Eagle describes the majestic and dynamic Lord of the Air, who guides the Old Man on his adventures; Dark Lochnagar is a wistful arrangement of a 19th-century Scottish ballad to accompany the Old Man finding his true love; and Scottish Dances depicts a joyous Highlands dance festival during which the Old Man rediscovers his lost youth.

The band, in its 105th concert season, will be featured in the Memorial Day Parades in Westfield and Scotch Plains, and at the band’s celebrated Summer Concert Series on June 22, June 29, July 6 and July 13 in Mindowaskin Park in Westfield.

Experienced area musicians may inquire about joining the band by contacting Barry Rosenberg, band president, at 732-356-9400 or by email at info@westfieldcommunityband.com.  The band rehearses each Wednesday evening from 7:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the community room located in the Westfield Municipal Building, 425 East Broad Street, and performs throughout the year.