Packard Band premieres new work for concert

The W.D. Packard Band will celebrate its 62nd anniversary with the premiere of a new work.

The group commissioned “The Packard Legacy” from Charles Sayre, a Youngstown State University and Berklee School of Music graduate who was a trombonist and arranger with the Airmen of Note, the official jazz ensemble of the U.S. Air Force.

Executive Director Thomas Groth said, “Chuck Sayre did the first commission for our 50th anniversary. We’ve played that through the years, and it’s a really fine piece of music. He has ties to the area, and he was up here for a workshop at YSU. We went to breakfast, and I told him it was time we had him do another piece for the band. Chuck’s music stands the test of time.”

Earlier this week, Groth said he was looking forward to tonight’s rehearsal to hear the piece played by the band. So far he’s only heard a recording of the piece created by Sayre using synthesized instruments.

“Thursday night’s rehearsal will be the first time anyone has played it,” Groth said. “It’s a good band piece. It will be a nice addition to our list of commissions.”

It also will serve as a showcase for the group’s different ensembles. In addition to using the full band, there are section specifically featuring both the Big Band Sound of Packard and the Packard Dixieland Band.

Sunday’s program will open with Ryan Nowlin’s fanfare “A Vision and a Dream,” the band’s 2008 commission. Composer Jerry Ascione, who has written several pieces for the band, will be represented with his “March of a Thousand Names,” a piece he created for the U.S. Navy Band.

“What I try to do on the anniversary concerts is pick the types of music the band has played through the years,” Groth said. “There’s something patriotic. There are marches on there. In the old days we always did a novelty tune … There’s Broadway with ‘Broadway Show-Stoppers’ and big band favorites. That’s always been a part of what the Packard Band does.”

The concert will conclude with a singalong to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”