In the News

Happy Fourth from the Salem Band: An Evening of American Celebration!

By Kelsey Carlisle
See original post on CVNC
July 4, 2022 — Winston-Salem, NC:

The Salem Band hosted a large audience for their Fourth of July Concert, Stars and Stripes, held in the historic Salem Square in Old Salem near downtown Winston. The ensemble, led by music director, conductor, and executive director, Eileen Young, played all the classic patriotic songs, marches, and hymns you could think of. The setlist also included two world premieres, composed by Salem Band’s very own trumpet player, David Teague. The W-S Pops Chorus, led by Kevin Mundy, joined the group for the evening on many of the songs as well, including plenty of sing-alongs that encouraged crowd participation. As a new alumna of Salem College, I loved the location of the concert. However, today it felt even more special. As many may know, the Salem Square is the home of the first ever Fourth of July Celebration held in America, making it the perfect place to perform for this concert!

The performance began with not one, but two arrangements of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The first was in typical army style, but the second was in the original ca. 1814 style. This version, arranged by Teague, was both familiar and completely new. It had me listening to every detail as I was trying to find the ornate embellishments I am used to hearing in this different, yet simple melody. It was one of my personal favorites from the night. Another piece that really spoke to me was “Summon the Heroes” by John Williams. It was originally composed for the opening ceremony of the 1996 Olympics, held in Atlanta, Georgia. This work was a little longer and more complex than many of the other songs from the evening, which is what I enjoyed about it the most. Principal trumpet player Ken Kline gave an excellent solo that truly brought the piece together. The whole work stood out from the crowd, yet still felt as patriotic as “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” from later in the show.

John Philip Sousa made a handful of appearances on the program for this show, and the crowd loved every single piece by him; from “Semper Fidelis” to “The Washington Post March,” the audience could be seen tapping their toes and clapping along to the classic Sousa marches. They were also a fan of the “Patriotic Medley Sing-Along,” arranged by Daniel Hornstein with Mignon Dobbins on vocals. This number included well-known songs such as “You’re a Grand Ole Flag” and “America” that the audience had no problem singing along with. “Y.M.C.A.” by Morali, Belolo, and Willis, arranged by Larry Nored, has an honorable mention as well. Who does not love that catchy tune?

To close out the show, the ensemble played “America, The Beautiful” arranged by Carmen Dragon and “Stars and Stripes Forever” by Sousa, two of the most well-known patriotic pieces out there. These two songs were the perfect combination to end the evening – with their beautiful harmonic variations and classic melodies, it is hard not to enjoy this music!

Remember to follow The Salem Band on Facebook to stay up to date on news and concert dates for their first Summer Concert Series in three years. You don’t want to miss it! 

Salem Band’s Winter Concert Continues their 250th Anniversary Celebration

By Kelsey Carlisle
See original post on CVNC
February 13, 2022 — Winston-Salem, NC:

Salem Band continued their 250th anniversary celebration with their annual winter concert, held at Hanes Auditorium on the campus of Salem College. Performing since 1771, Salem Band is the oldest continuous mixed wind ensemble in the nation. Fittingly, the concert featured a number of pieces tied to American nostalgia, while also looking forward to their promising future. The first piece was “Hymn to the Dawn” by Kimberly Archer, which set the tone nicely for the rest of the program. I was happy to hear how the band did not overplay like many concert bands do, but instead took advantage of the smaller size and instrumentation of a concert band setting and the colors they could create with it. In “Hymn to the Dawn,” they did a great job of blending to create rich waves of sound.

The next piece was Andante et Allegro by Joseph Edouard Barat featuring University of North Carolina School of the Arts trombone student Elijah Van Camp-Goh as a soloist. Here, the droning, repetitive Andante section nicely set up the surprise of the Allegro, and Van Camp-Goh did a good job of “singing” within the very operatic solo and accompaniment texture. Robert Russell Bennett’s Suite of Old American Dances followed, which contained many of the sweet, nostalgic harmonies that we so often associate with Americana – fitting for a band so strongly embedded in America’s musical history. The band then played a piece they commissioned from Patrick J. Burns, composed “in celebration of their 250th year of making music and history together.” Burns wanted to honor Salem Band’s history by starting with a trombone choir, the same way the band started in 1771, and taking the piece through many moments where their future was put into question only to be followed by moments of triumph.

The only piece in the program that was not up to par was Gershwin’s An American in Paris, where the band just seemed out of sync, and there was not much of the sharpness or clarity needed to effectively perform Gershwin’s music. They returned to form, though, with William P. Latham’s Proud Heritage March and Leroy Anderson’s “The Rakes of Mallow” from Irish Suite. Music director and conductor Eileen M. Young said the Anderson piece specifically was meant to put some humor into the program, repeating the same theme faster and faster until at the end, “we’re all smiling.” The program closed with “The Empire Strikes Back (Finale)” by John Williams and a second piece by Burns, “Benediction.” It is hard not to be moved by Williams’ music, as he has written some of the most famous and timeless melodies of all time, and the band executed them perfectly. “Benediction” was a wonderfully calm way to end the performance, reminding me a lot of the Archer piece from the beginning of the program, but this time the waves settled instead of rising.

Salem Band is older than the United States itself, and it has survived every president and war the country has seen. It is amazing to see that they are still putting on successful concerts, and it is clear that, even 250 years in, they have a bright future ahead.


Outdoor Concert Features Rock Music Lessons

By Peter Perret
See original post on CVNC
Thursday, May 31, 2018 — Winston-Salem, NC:

Sixty-five musicians of every stripe and shape assembled on the circular brick pad framed by eight large cedar trees in the center of Salem Square in the historic district of Old Salem. Hopes were high that the weather would finally allow the summer season to begin after two previous rain-outs. Children chased fireflies while their parents set up lawn chairs and ate cups of gelato from the vendor on the edge of the square. And in quiet moments one could hear the cooing of mourning doves and the tinny bell of Home Moravian Church ringing the half hours.

Usually referred to as “Old Salem,” Salem was established in 1766 by Moravian settlers who brought with them their love of music, especially brass instruments. Formed in 1771, the Salem Band proudly proclaims itself to be the oldest continuous band in the nation. The music director and conductor of the band for the last seven years is Eileen Young, the band’s first female conductor, and known regionally for her fine clarinet and sax playing. Under her leadership, the band has grown in size and number of concerts. Concerts are always free for audiences.

The title of tonight’s concert was “School of Rock,” a long stretch for a Moravian connection, but hugely popular with the hundred-fifty listeners who snapped fingers, tapped toes and sang words sotto voce. A senior citizen made her silent political statement of solidarity by dropping to one knee through the National Anthem which opened the evening’s program. Courting couples danced barefoot on the grass to the Glenn Miller medley which helped situate the precursors of Elvis, the Beatles, and Journey.

This was a comprehensive sampling of pop music from the 1930’s jazz through the disco era, from “Splish, Splash” (Bobby Darin) to “Any Way You Want It” (Journey). One of the highlights of the evening was the band’s performance of “Yesterday” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (band arrangement by Zane van Auken).

“YMCA” had the audience doing calisthenics in their chairs and wishing the version played were longer. An insider joke allowed the band to play a transcription of an Italian polka by Rachmaninoff (“Rocky Maninoff”), which featured some of the best playing of the evening. Also touchingly played was “Carry On My Wayward Son” originally by Kansas (band arrangement by Paul Murtha). The closing march, “Song of America,” got off to a rocky start but featured some fine tuba playing.

The inclusion of two hymns from the Moravian hymn book was a nod to Moravian tradition and permitted the passing of a collection basket for donations to the band.

The next performance of the Salem Band will be in the same location, on Tuesday night June 12 at 7:30 pm and will feature Music Educators’ Choice repertory with guest conductors.

Scene and Heard: No matter the season, celebrate food and music

Posted by Cindy Hodnet
See original post on
Sunday, February 12, 2017

Salem Band Winter Concert

Many fans of the Salem Band are accustomed to gathering in the square at Old Salem for performances, but on Tuesday, the Elberson Fine Arts Center on the Salem College campus was the destination for an evening of music. Led by Music Director/Conductor Eileen Young, the Salem Band performed a variety of tunes including everything from Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances Opus 46 to Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus to Rodgers’ South Pacific Symphonic Scenario.

“The winter concert is a chance for the band to show off,” Young said, smiling. “We are featuring original band movements and pieces that we wouldn’t be able to play outside. Tonight, our soloist is Chip Seiler, and we’ll have soloists for all of our Salem Shining Stars concerts, including our summer series that kicks off on May 16.”

Travis Williams brought his son, Jeffrey, to hear the show. Shannon Williams, wife and mother to the pair, was part of the concert along with her alto saxophone. Bob Rhoads and Lou Sikora, the self-described “half of the tuba section” came early for warm-up practice, as did Kate Chanas, Kristie Staton, Brittany Clark and Donna McKenzie.

Andy Johnson and Karen Renaux came for the pre-concert music with the Winston-Salem Adult Beginner Band, directed by Adam Joiner. Johnson’s father, Tim, and his wife, Tracy, were part of the musician ensemble, as were Katie Pratt, a student at Jefferson Middle School, and Abby Rapier, a student at Reagan High School.

“Anyone can play with our band, as long as they’re not, like, two years old,” said Pratt with a mischievous grin. “We have middle school, high school and beyond high school members.”

Young said that the evening was a good representation of what the Salem Band is all about.

“I tell folks to try to focus on the fact that we are a community band first,” she said. “We look out for each other and for our audience community as well. Our summer programs are styled for the outdoor square, and in the fall, we incorporate movies. We hit all different kinds of styles of music.”

An Evening of American Music on The Square with Salem Band

By Nicholas Rich
See original post on CNVC
June 7, 2016 – Winston-Salem, NC:

Formed in 1771, Salem Band holds the title of the nation’s oldest continuous mixed wind ensemble. Throughout the summer, the band is embracing the spirit of America in a series entitled “Sounds of A Nation.”

Tuesday evening’s concert, “Presidential,” explored the songs connected to our nation’s highest office. What a fine and refreshing tribute to the presidency in a heated election season!

A little concert context before I get to the music: one of the most pleasant things about hearing a Salem Band concert is sitting in the Square at Old Salem. Situated on a slight incline, the beautiful square forms a natural theater. There are food and drink vendors, and plenty of tree shade (important when enjoying ice cream). Sitting on soft and springy grass, surrounded by the beautiful structures of Old Salem, it’s hard not to feel at least a little bit of patriotic sentiment.

After a rousing performance of our national anthem, music director and conductor Eileen M. Young gave a sharp cue, and band came to life with the “University of Pennsylvania March” by Roland Seitz. The march was performed in honor of William Henry Harrison, who briefly studied medicine at the University. The second selection was a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, “With Malice Toward None.” This piece calls for a narrator, who presents fragments of speeches combined with some historical and biographical information. It was hard to hear this piece and not think of Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait,” which is overall a finer composition – but no matter. The band was warm and tight, and guest baritone Leonard Rowe commanding and powerful.

There were many selections on the remainder of the concert. I’ll mention some of the highlights. Helen May Butler, a contemporary of Sousa, was a pioneer as a composer, conductor, and leader of an all-female band. She was also an inspiration to Young, who mentioned the influence that Butler’s legacy had on her journey toward leading a concert band. Butler’s band was a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt, and her composition “Cosmopolitan America” was the official march of Roosevelt’s 1904 campaign. Young’s passion for the music was evident as she led the band in a fine performance.
The next piece also had a Roosevelt connection. Tierney’s “Alice Blue Gown” is a tribute to Roosevelt’s eldest child Alice Roosevelt Longworth, whose fashion was iconic and trend-setting in the early 20th century. In the middle of the program were two hymns, “My Soul Before You Prostrate Lies” and “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.” The latter is traditionally associated with the maritime armed services of the English-speaking world, and was the favorite song of Gerald Ford. The evening’s most energetic and rousing composition was Ted Ricketts’s “Neil Diamond,” a selection from his “Pop and Rock Legends” series of medleys. Including Diamond favorites such as “Sweet Caroline” and “Cherry Cherry,” the medley was primarily chosen for the inclusion of “America,” which was Michael Dukakis’ theme song for his 1988 Presidential Campaign.

Salem Band is an invaluable part of North Carolina’s musical history, and it’s always a pleasure to hear them perform in Salem Square. If you have a free evening, I highly recommend attending one of their beautiful, fun, and family-friendly concerts. View their upcoming concert schedule at here. Bravi to the performers and to Eileen M.Young!

Scene and Heard: Old Salem was the place to celebrate July 4

Posted by Cindy Hodnet
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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sounds of a Nation

Although delayed by a day, the Sounds of a Nation concert by the Salem Band drew an appreciative crowd on Wednesday. With the smell of roasting hot dogs and the promise of cooling gelato as the culinary backdrop, the concert kicked off with a rousing rendition of “Semper Fidelis March” by John Philip Sousa and continued with musical homage to each branch of the military.

“We often draw our biggest crowd of the year for this concert,” said Eileen Young, music director for Salem Band. “In the past, we’ve had as many as 700 people come out.

“We honor our veterans several times throughout the concert,” Young continued. “And tonight, Mignon Dobbins is our soloist and will be singing ‘As Time Goes By.’”

Jim Oates and Henry Gough stopped for a quick photo while in the process of setting up for the performance. Both play in the band, and both are veterans.

“I was in the Navy toward the end of World War II,” Oates said. “I’ve been playing in the band for more than 50 years.”

Gough has been performing with the band for 10 years.

“I look forward to this every year,” he said. “It honors vets and the people we served with, and the community likes it.”

Jim and Brooke Moody set up the gelato/popsicle cart along with Logan Levigne, courtesy of West End Coffee. The line for Gunny Smitty’s hot dogs formed quickly as well with many concertgoers combining dinner and music.

Donna Hicks coaxed Bella, an 8-year-old bassett hound, to sit on the blanket in front of her. Across the square, Angela and Dan Souza kept Zee, their adopted retired greyhound racer, close as they waited for hot dogs. The younger Souzas — Abbie, Kadie and Aidan — blew bubbles into the air and chased each other around trees in between wand magic.

Deborah Mills juggled evening supplies, two toddlers and a blanket before good-naturedly agreeing to a photo with her group.

“This is a great family event combined with the history of our community,” said Mills, who brought her “grands,” as in granddaughter Emma, 3, grandson Max, 1, and “Grand Dell” also known as Dell Guthrie, a favorite local performer with his own concerts coming up on July 18 and 29. “We come almost every year.”

“It’s outside and not too loud,” Guthrie added with a mischievous smile.
“It’s not boisterous and there’s no head-banging here.”

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