The Stanton’s Sheet Music band staff is always looking for pieces to recommend that are great for teaching, fun to perform and listen to, and that provide some programming variety. In this post, we’re going to turn the variety concept on its head. The majority of the titles mentioned in this post are of a programmatic (read: concert piece) nature, but their style and backgrounds make them wonderful choices for your spring band concert, so why not break up the monotony of pop songs and movie music with one of these great concert selections! We are particularly fond of Douglas E. Wagner’s treatment of the Carmen Dragon America, the Beautiful, and Brian Balmages’ bluegrass and Irish flavored Blue Ridge Reel which has been very popular.
America, the Beautiful
arr. Carmen Dragon/Douglas E. Wagner
Belwin Young Band
Long-established as THE setting of America, the Beautiful, the majestic beauty and awesome grandeur of Carmen Dragon’s arrangement has been preserved in this gorgeous edition with accommodations made for younger, less experienced groups. This edition is a must-have addition to your library that your students and audience deserve to experience!
Blue Ridge Reel
FJH Young Band
One listen and you’ll know why you should program this composition! Masters of style, FJH, do it again, this time capturing the spirit and essence of bluegrass music and its Irish heritage for the concert band! Light playing style, lots of 8th note work, and intricate interweaving of rhythms put this one over the top, while washboard and spoons add to the fun!
Spy music is always fun to play, and the colorful sonic palette of this original work by Robert Buckley is no exception. Use of chromatic tones, shifts in tonal and harmonic patterns, and effective percussion set the tone of intrigue and suspense. Perfect for change-of-pace programming, or pops concerts.
Last Full Measure (Gettysburg)
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Michael Sweeney has created an imaginative medley of Civil War tunes well-suited for young bands. The Girl I Left Behind Me (with optional tin whistles), When Johnny Comes Marching Home, and Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier express longing and hope for loved ones away, while Battle Cry of Freedom and Battle Hymn of the Republic inspire feelings of patriotic resolve and courage.
Measures of Success
Looking for a refreshing concert opener? Fiery and uplifting, this expansive work captures the essence and excitement of traveling the open countryside. Off-beat 8th note syncopation combined with the 3/4 meter create forward-moving lift, the memorable legato response figure provides a light contrast to the overall rhythmic drive, and excellent percussion writing rounds out the complete package!
Alan Lee Silva
Young Performance Series
Originally published for string orchestra, The Code tells a story that is perfectly suited bands. Your students will enjoy the mysterious style and sophisticated sound created by the tight, 8th note moving patterns, intricate part writing, and syncopated rhythms, and numerous accents, alternating articulations, and subtle dynamic shifts are sure to increase the maturity of your ensemble.