The Best Cure for the “Winter-That-Wasn’t”

Steve Felix, Trumpet Soloist

The Eagles Band of Pittsfield, MA will present its annual free Spring Concert on Sunday April 24, 2016 at 3:00pm at the First United Methodist Church, 55 Fenn St., Pittsfield, MA.

Carl Jenkins, the Eagles Band conductor, talks about the challenging and interesting program he has chosen for this year’s Spring Concert.

“I always am challenged to find a program that balances selections that will excite and challenge the band and listeners.  After less than two years as the principal conductor, I can’t say that I’ve necessarily found the “perfect” program.  Knowing that we are performing at an indoor venue (F.U.M.C.) allows me the luxury of programming music that might not work outside at our summer series.  The concert we are performing on Sunday the 24th has a wide variety of styles and musical moods.


I have chosen two significant transcriptions for band, the first, a wild and exciting opener entitled “Festive Overture” by the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and the second, an intense, powerful “March” by Paul Hindemith from a larger work “Symphonic Metamorphosis”.  I constantly try to introduce the audience to marches by composers other than John Philip Sousa 🙂  None-the-less I have also programmed a lesser known Sousa March entitled “Manhattan Beach”.  This march was written by Sousa at a time when his band performed regularly at Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, New York.   This destination was soon to become known as Coney Island!


Our program also includes a wonderful arrangement of the American Folk Song “Shenandoah” and a series of four Gypsy Folk Dances, called “Puszta” by the Belgian composer Jan Van der Roost. These dances have been popular with all sorts of performing groups.   I have spoken with numerous conductors from high schools, colleges and festivals – all have enjoyed bringing these dances to their audiences.

It gives me a great deal of pleasure to be bringing a former student and doctoral student, from the prestigious Eastman School of Music, back to the Berkshires to play with the Eagles Band.  Steven Felix, a 2007 graduate of Drury High School, will be performing the “Slavonic Fantasy” by Carl Hohne.  This work is a real tour d’ force for the trumpet, demonstrating the many capabilities of the instrument in a multi-mood gypsy/Slavonic style concerto.  What a thrill to bring this piece to our audience and to demonstrate the skills of a local alumni.  To learn more about Mr. Felix go to http://www.scfelix.com/about.html


The real newcomer to the program is “It Finds an Echo in My Soul” by Andrew Boysen.  Mr. Boysen, a resident of Northampton, was commissioned by the Drury High School Band in 2009 to compose a work for concert band based on the well-known Shaker Hymn “How Can I Keep from Singing”.  The outcome was this substantial work that at first only gives hints of the actual hymn.  As the work unfolds the hymn becomes more fully realized.  Some unconventional techniques are used to heighten the tension – referring to several of the verses of the hymn.  I deeply hope that audience and performers alike will find new and old favorites in the mix of selections being performed on the 24th.  It’s been challenging yet fun to prepare these compositions for our upcoming concert.  The band has accepted the challenge and is ready for a wonderful program on the 24th.  We’re hoping to get a large turnout.  Enjoy!!”

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