James Chesebrough Leads KSC Concert Band
Dr. James Chesebrough joined Keene State as the interim concert band director when Professor Doug Nelson retired in the spring of 2006. Chesebrough has undoubtedly heard various phrases about the proverbial shoes he is attempting to fill, but like every good musician and conductor, he is doing it his own way.
He jumped in with both feet, teaching nine classes in the music department in the fall of '06 and seven in spring of '07. The concert band's first performance under Chesebrough's direction last December was memorable in the way he incorporated Keene's rich musical history. He explained: "It was Professor Nelson who first told me that Edward E. Bagley, the great march composer, lived in Keene from 1893 until his death in 1922. The town's bandstand was named for Bagley in 1979, and his remains are interred locally at Keene's Greenlawn Cemetery. I wanted the first concert following Doug's retirement to tie into Keene's history, so I started by programming Bagley's 'National Emblem March.'
From there I began to think about other New England composers and then about composers from across our land. The next step was to include some living composers, which brought me full circle back to Keene and the music of Dr. Craig Sylvern [chair of the KSC music department]. The result was a concert of American music that spanned more than 100 years of band music from the golden age of concert bands to the present."
Melanie Prisby '09, a KSC student flutist in the band, said of Chesebrough's style: "Working with such a varied program for the December concert was something I've never really done in the past … I liked the challenge."
For 26 years, Chesebrough was a band director in public schools in Ohio and New Hampshire. He was an instructor of low brass at Plymouth State University, visiting conductor of that school's symphonic band in 1999, and served as assistant conductor of the University of Connecticut Wind Ensemble. The New Hampshire Band Directors' Association honored him as Outstanding Band Director of the Year in 1998. He came to Keene State College after a year as visiting music director of the Yale University Bands.