Hello, brass and band music
fans. For this go around of the WWUH Program Guide, which will finish out the year 2000,
Ive 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 Drakes 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 LPs, someone in Congress
decided that service band recordings should no longer be available for sale commercially.
Now, Im 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 dont happen to live next to a library which is lucky enough to have one of these
recordings, or if you havent 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
CDs of pre-LP material, much of it quite rare, several discs devoted to soloists and
CDs 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:
- Several Sousa discs
- Directors Choice with an incredible transcription of The Pines of
- Marine Band Showcase with music of Piston, Bach and Graingers
"Marching Song of Democracy" (a recording Ive been wanting for
- American Games-20th Century Classics for Winds which
includes Maws "American Games" and Charles Cushings facinating
- Uncommon Valor commemorating WWII with music from South Pacific and Victory
The catch here is that Musical Heritage Recordings (MHS) are only available by mail
order to members of the Society. But dont worry, its 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