Vance-Granville Community Band To Present Free Winter Concert

Monday, November 26, 2018
Brian Miller conducts the Vance-Granville Community Band during its 2017 winter concert at McGregor Hall. (VGCC Photo)

The Vance-Granville Community Band will present its 11th annual winter concert on Monday, Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in McGregor Hall at 201 Breckenridge Street in downtown Henderson. The concert is free and open to the public.

“The concert is a classic old-fashioned band concert,” said Brian D. Miller, director of the band. “Bands should always play music that is appealing and makes sense. We have had a great tradition of performing good, solid, traditional band music in the Vance-Granville Community Band. It was John Philip Sousa’s philosophy that music should always be attractive and have great audience appeal. There is no better model for band administration and performance than the one set forth by Sousa.”

The band’s repertoire for the December concert includes a march by Sousa, the seldom-heard “Keeping Step with the Union,” a march Sousa composed in 1921 and dedicated to Mrs. Warren G. Harding, wife of the 29th president of the United States. “Sousa wrote 136 great marches,” Miller said, “but we don’t get to hear the rare ones. It’s a lot of fun to present Sousa’s lesser-known marches.”

The band will also perform a rare 1914 march entitled “Radium King.” “This march came from a golden time period of the circus march and celebrated the wonder of radium as a newly-discovered element,” Miller said. Other pieces on the concert include a famous 1960s band composition entitled “Overture In Bb,” a transcription of music from the movie “The Greatest Showman.”

Christmas season music will also be featured on the concert as well, Miller added. Patrons will hear “All Is Well,” “Greensleeves,” and a Christmas march transcribed by band member Bob Salzmann.

“We are certainly fortunate to have Bob Salzmann with us in the band,” said Miller, “because not only is he an excellent musician, he is a fine arranger. It’s great having our own arranger create music for the band.”

The audience will hear two well-known medleys of Christmas favorites, including Leroy Anderson’s all-time classic “Christmas Festival,” referred to by Miller as “one of the greatest Christmas band pieces ever.”

The band has shown significant numerical and musical growth under the baton of veteran band director Miller, who established his identity in the area as the longtime director of the Louisburg High School Band, which grew into one of the state’s largest bands in one of the state’s smallest schools and whose Symphonic and Concert Bands became known in the regional area for performance of traditional band overtures and old-fashioned Sousa marches.

Miller said his philosophy is simple: “Play good, traditional music that is appealing to the audience.”

“We hope that everyone will come enjoy this great cultural experience in historic downtown Henderson,” Miller added. “We want everybody to hear the Vance-Granville Community Band.”

The Community Band, which is sponsored by the VGCC Division of Arts and Sciences, includes people of all ages, from all walks of life, and from throughout the region. No auditions are required. Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings from 7-9 p.m. at the Vance-Granville Community College Civic Center, on the Main Campus in Henderson, at Exit 209 on Interstate 85 (Poplar Creek Road).

For more information, contact Brian Miller at (919) 496-5877 or at bmiller9302@vgcc.edu or Betsy Henderson at hendersonb@vgcc.edu.

Above, Brian Miller conducts the Vance-Granville Community Band during its 2017 winter concert. (VGCC photo)