In the shadow of symphony orchestras, community bands usually do with less fanfare (despite that bands play fanfares more frequently than orchestras).
The Casco Bay Concert Band, southern Maine’s premier community band since 1980, perform at Gorham High School, Sunday, February 11 at 3 pm, conducted by Peter Martin. The program includes Casco Bay Fanfare by Jack Stamp, a short energetic tribute dedicated to Maurice Lane, a lifelong musician, conductor and CBCB’s bass clarinetist until passing at age 94. Two British works are listed — Malcolm Arnold’s Four Scottish Dances and Stephen McNeff’s Ghosts, an entertaining nine-movement piece with an introduction ("The Haunting"), seven vignettes each characterizing a legendary ghost, and a final Chorale titled “the Ghosts are laid to rest. . .” Sharing the stage are the Dartmouth Wind Symphony with a “Blowing in the Wind” program theme, conducted by Max Culpepper.
CBCB has grown from 35 to 70 members in its 27 years, followed the cues of three conductors, and undertaken numerous community activities. They sponsor Music in Our Schools concerts with a school band (such as the South Portland High School Band on March 19), and participate in “RB Hall Day” — an official state holiday on the last Saturday of June recognizing “Maine’s King of Marches” Robert Brown Hall (1858-1907). Community bands from across the state gather for a free nonstop day-long concert in his honor.
CBCB gives two scholarships per year — to a student who plays Music in Our Schools, and to one from Gorham High School, which hosts rehearsals and concerts. Pam Marshall, flutist since the first performance (alongside trombonists John Hall and Dick Merrill), says CBCB hopes to “show young people that music doesn’t end when schools end,” and that musical participation isn’t restricted to those who choose it as their occupation. A third of its members are music educators or performers; the remainder includes lawyers, teachers, retirees, homemakers, and several doctors concentrated in the brass section (and I’ll come clean: I recently joined as an oboist).
Martin notes that although “concert bands don’t have the visibility typical of orchestras, there are actually more” community bands than community orchestras in Maine. In greater Portland, the Westbrook City Band and Italian Heritage Center Band join the roster.
Marshall says the band performs “a better quality of music” — including more challenging works — under Martin’s direction. She has enjoyed the more difficult, contemporary, and lesser known works that Martin has chosen over the years. He picks “music for everyone to listen to,” says Marshall, to accommodate the wide range of ages in the audience and the band.
Music for the people, of the people, and by the people emerges from the shadows to take its place in the spotlight this Sunday. Orchestras step aside — it’s concert band time!
For those who simply must have vocals or strings, note and plan for the University of Southern Maine’s production of Die Fleidermaus by Richard Strauss on February 10, 14, and 17.
Now, to quote a friend (or two): “Strike up the band!”
Casco Bay Concert Band | February 11, 3 pm | Gorham High School, 41 Morrill Ave, Gorham | $7 | 207.780.5265
Die Fledermaus | with Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra + Opera Workshop | by Richard Strauss | February 10, 8 pm; February 14, 7:30 pm; February 17 8 pm | at Corthell Hall, USM, in Gorham | $15 | 207.780.5555
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Ben Meiklejohn: email@example.com