When the Bloomfield Civic Band offers “The Winds of Autumn, Sounds of the Season” in concert on October 28, one of the highlights of the program will be Robert Russell Bennett’s “Suite of Old American Dances.” Robert Russell Bennett was an American composer and arranger whose greatest influence has been felt in the musical theater. He collaborated with Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rogers, and other composers and arrangers to produce some of the most memorable musical scores of the past century. If the soundtrack of your life includes songs from Showboat, Annie Get Your Gun, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, or any of a couple dozen more shows and movies, you have Robert Russell Bennett to thank.
This writer had the privilege of seeing the most recent revival of South Pacific at the Lincoln Center Theater shortly before the show closed in 2010. If it is remembered correctly, the playbill observed that Robert Russell Bennett’s original arrangements were lost after the show’s original Broadway run. They had to be carefully reconstructed for this revival from secondary sources. The result: a glorious musical experience.
The Bloomfield Civic Band is no stranger to Robert Russell Bennett’s work. During the 2017–2018 season the Civic Band performed a suite of selections from Victory at Sea, on which Bennett collaborated with composer Richard Rodgers.
Robert Russell Bennett’s compositions and arrangements are challenging for a community band. He clearly expected the musicians performing his compositions and arrangements to work hard and stretch themselves, but his music is fun to play. The Bloomfield Civic Band will pour its heart into this performance of “Suite of Old American Dances.” We hope you will come hear us as we do!
The concert will be offered at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 28, in the Bloomfield Middle School in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Nominal prices are charged for the tickets, with discounts for seniors and students, and for advance purchase from a band member.