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The University of Hartford

An Announcement From the Bandstand
By Drake the Bandmaster
Marine Band Recordings Now Available !!!

     Hello, brass and band music fans. For this go around of the WWUH Program Guide, which will finish out the year 2000, I’ve decided to forgo the usual review and bring you some new from the band world. No, make that EXCELLENT NEWS. OK, how about, DOWNRIGHT UNBELIEVABLE NEWS. For years I have featured the recordings of the United States Marine Band in Washington DC, the crème de la crème of service bands and one of the absolute best bands in the country. WWUH is fortunate enough to be on their mailing list, and each new recording is a cause for celebration. I happily clear out several nights worth of Drake’s Village Brass Band programs to feature these discs. Now the sad part is that these recordings have never been for sale. Somewhere back in history, about the time when the recording industry switched to the stunning new recording medium of vinyl LP’s, someone in Congress decided that service band recordings should no longer be available for sale commercially. Now, I’’m not an expert in the history of this change, but I do know that in the 78 era there were loads of Service Band recordings available for sale and since that time, with several special exceptions, none. There is a curious note about this state of affairs found on the program notes of these non-commercial discs. It states, "It is intended that this recording increase public awareness of the Marine Corps and renew an appreciation for and better understanding of concert band music." It then goes on to state that it is not for sale, "…because appropriated funds were utlilzed (for) this recording." I always thought that there was a clear conflict of interest in the goal of the first part of the statement with the fact of the second part. After all, if you don’t happen to live next to a library which is lucky enough to have one of these recordings, or if you haven’t been lucky enough to hear a radio broadcast, then your awareness of the Marine Corps Band is probably pretty slim.
     Anyway, this is all a prelude to the announcement that Marine Band recordings are now being licensed for sale to the general public. The Musical Heritage Society has taken on the role of releasing these recordings. This is truly a happy day for band aficionados. There are currently around 10 titles available, plus the 10 CD Marine Band Bicentennial set. Regular listeners may remember when I featured recordings from this set during a 3 month stretch in 1999. This lavishly produced set features recordings of the band drawn from a 100 year recording legacy. There are 2 CD’s of pre-LP material, much of it quite rare, several discs devoted to soloists and CD’s featuring Directors of the band and guest conductors including Leonard Slatkin, Frederick Fennell and Gunther Schuller as well as composers Ron Nelson, John Harbison and others. Repertoire covered includes marches and transcriptions from the classics, as well as original band works by Warren Benson, Gordon Jacob, Ives, Schwanter and an incredible performance fo the Hindemith Symphony in B-flat for Concert Band.
     Some highlights of other discs currently available are:

  1. Several Sousa discs
  2. Director’s Choice – with an incredible transcription of The Pines of Rome
  3. Marine Band Showcase – with music of Piston, Bach and Grainger’s "Marching Song of Democracy" – (a recording I’ve been wanting for years!)
  4. American Games-20th Century Classics for Winds – which includes Maw’s "American Games" and Charles Cushing’s facinating "Angel Camp"
  5. Uncommon Valor – commemorating WWII with music from South Pacific and Victory at Sea

The catch here is that Musical Heritage Recordings (MHS) are only available by mail order to members of the Society. But don’t worry, it’s easy to join and the rules are not restrictive. MHS offers excellent specials in their sales magazines which are sent 18 times a year. MHS offers a highly eclectic catalog with something for everyone. They produce their own recordings as well as license recordings from the top labels, many of which are now out of print with the original label. Could be some great holiday presents waiting for you. Contact MHS by calling 1-800-333-4647 or by writing Musical Heritage Society, 1710 Highway 35, Oakhurst, NJ, 07755 or on the web at www.musicalheritage.com. Happy Listening.

Copyright©WWUH: November/December Program Guide, 2000

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