Saturday, November 09, 2013

Humboldt Bay Brass Band Nov. 9 Concert Notes

   HBBB joins the planking craze, indicating perhaps that this is a particularly light-hearted program!

"I am extremely proud of what this band has been able to accomplish in the past ten years. We made a CD. We traveled to Seattle for a big festival.  And much more.

 But the very name "Brass Band" is very much misunderstood in the U.S. including here in Humboldt County. In our HSU concerts we've played music ranging from ancient Greek times to the most recent compositions, including some daring ones. In between has been all manner of  Renaissance works that few other groups tackle, and in playing Baroque music we've often used historically accurate instruments. Then there have been all the overtures, marches, true UK brass band music and so on. The "range" of HBBB is incredible. The interest of the musicians has been keen. I hope audiences get a chance to hear this 'band.'"
--Gil Cline

Notes on Two Historical Tunes

 Ja-Da (1920s) The sheet music we will play from was donated to us by Charlotte Nisky in 1984, who for decades taught piano lessons to many, many young local musicians. As young Charlotte Barkdull, she played piano for dances all over Humboldt County ( including the town of Falk!) along with her Barkdull brothers. We're playing directly from the early 1920s publication, without any sort of modern arrangement, using the very pages used by this group.

Eureka March  (1914)  This piece, found in the HSU Library, was originally for piano.  G. Cline arranged it for HBBB. The Intro we have, bars 1-4, were not in the original. All bass lines, countermelodies, percussion parts, and dynamics (and all interior part-writing) is by GC … in the same manner as anyone scoring such music.

Here's more on the history (from an article by G. Cline published in Humboldt Historian 2006):

"The first dozen years of the new century had incredible advances of technology affecting the lives of Americans. There was an explosion of recordings issued for gramophone, and an explosion of railroad lines. The automobile was well on the way; Ford introduced the Model T in 1908 and manufactured 300,000 in 1914. Local high schools were established.

The single year 1914 saw the founding of what would become Humboldt State University, then the beginning in Europe of a world war, then the completion of a railroad south over what was termed “the gap” in rail service.

Local newspapers provide specifics of the cost and availability of recorded music. In January 1914 there were advertisements for “Victors $10 to $100, Victor-Victrolas, $15-$200 at the Pioneer Piano House, 433 F.” In the same month is an ad for Pierce Piano House, for “Columbia “Double-Disc [platter-type] Records -- 65 cents. Still in the same year is the indication of the “talkies” to later arrive, in an advertisement for “Edison Talking Pictures, at Margarita Theater, One week, 10 to 50 cents.

 Local festivities were important. And the clue to the purpose of “Eureka March” is provided in The Humboldt Standard on July 1, 1914. The news reads: “SPEND THE FOURTH IN EUREKA. Grand Fourth of July Celebration. Three Days -- July 3, 4, 5 -- Under the Auspices of the Hupa Tribe of Redmen. Hose Races, Day and Night Fireworks, Tug of War, Music by Columbia Park Boys’ and Professor Flowers’ Military Bands, Monster Parades, Patriotic Exercises, Barbecue, Races, Ball Games and Dozens of Other Features.” The dedication page of “Eureka March” is dedicated to this fraternal organization.

On July 3rd we read on page 1 “GREAT CELEBRATION OF JULY THE FOURTH IS OPENED IN EUREKA. BAND CONCERT IS FOLLOWED BY BABY CARRIAGE PARADE. “During these races the band concert from the stand at Third and F streets by Flowers’ military band will be in progress. In fact the band concert will continue during the day until 5 o’clock p.m.”

About Bert Pasco, composer of Eureka March:

 "The name Bert Pasco exists in enough local written records to provide some glimpses of a musician making his way in life. At the Clarke Museum there exists a simple business rate card, with his address as Box 506, Eureka. Dated Jan. 1st, 1923 there is information about rates ($1 - $2 per hour) and conditions for payment for his music lessons, including piano and harmony. He also offered lessons on pipe organ, so these lessons most likely were held at a nearby church, unless he was one of the rare people to have a pipe organ (not a reed organ, or electronic organ) in his residence

 Pasco was indeed an organist (and also choir director) at Christ Episcopal Church, then located at Fourth & E streets. There is no mention of Pasco [in newspaper accounts], so it is likely he was not commissioned for writing the music. Perhaps he wrote it as volunteer service to IORM or to Eureka; certainly he depended on its sale in order to pay printing expenses. There is no indication that it was performed in any format other than the original piano version.

 “ The last big news of 1914 for Humboldt County residents was the completion of the long-awaited railroad “across the gap.” A Humboldt Times article of July 12, 1894 had predicted that trains over such a line would travel at an incredible 50 mph.

 It was the author’s guess that “Eureka March” may have been written for and played for that occasion. At the Humboldt County Historical Society Barnum House in collections there is a printed “programme” for Friday October 23, 1914 with information and credits. At last, there is mention of a band. On October 23rd there was a “... a crowd of 350 people ...” and “The ceremony of driving the gold spike and speech making lasted two hours and a moving picture operator and an official photographer were on hand ...” All this was part of a three-day celebration. Our “programme” lists for the next day, Saturday October 24, 1914, an automobile parade to Sequoia Park; again, a band is mentioned as beginning the event.

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