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For fall concert, it’s conductor’s choice

As the holidays approach and the end of the year draws near, late November serves as a time to reflect on and celebrate the passage of time.

That is exactly what the Fredericksburg Community Concert Band intends to do with its fall concert on Saturday, Nov. 23.

For the band’s conductor, Christopher Fens, time passed so quickly he barely noticed that last year marked his 10-year anniversary of conducting the Fredericksburg Community Concert Band.

“I was having so much fun, I didn’t even realize 10 years had passed,” Fens said.

Fens said he’s been conducting since he was 11 years old, waving his hand along to his beloved classical music.

“I guess it could be considered a control issue,” Fens said of his love for conducting. “When I play the French horn or the trumpet, I get to play one part of the music . . .when I conduct, I feel like I can make so much more music, more than just one part of it.”

He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education with a concentration in conducting from Virginia Commonwealth University, and is now a music teacher at Bailey Bridge Middle School in Chesterfield County.

“I think Chris is a marvelous conductor,” said Art Baughman, the band’s president. “He has a very, very easy-to-follow style. Maybe that comes from the fact that he’s a schoolteacher.”

As the band was searching for a theme for this year’s fall concert, one of the members suggested belatedly celebrating Fens’ decade with the band by making it a conductor’s choice set list.

So the band will be playing some of Fens’ favorite pieces, including “An American Elegy” by Frank Ticheli, a memorial tribute to the victims of the Columbine High School shooting, “October” by Eric Whitacre, and Fens’ “crowning jewel” piece, “Culloden Movement 3” by Julie Giroux.

Not only will the Fredericksburg Community Concert Band be celebrating Christopher Fens’ 10th anniversary of conducting the band, but they will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, almost to the day.

Baughman said he noticed the concert date’s near alignment with the day of Kennedy’s assassination, which was Nov. 22, 1963, as soon as the concert was scheduled.

Baughman, who plays the trombone, was in sixth grade 50 years ago and remembers that day well.

“I was actually in band rehearsal when the incident happened,” Baughman said.

To commemorate President Kennedy, the band will play a musical piece by James Swearington called “Ask Not,” named for the famous Kennedy speech, while former state Sen. Edd Houck reads a narration about Kennedy’s life.

“It’s a cultural event. We provide music for people of all ages,” Baughman said. “So it can be a learning experience for them and also an easy listening experience.”


What: Fredericksburg Community Concert Band’s annual Fall Concert

Where: Massaponax High School, 8201 Jefferson Davis Highway

When: Saturday, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m.

Cost: $5 for adults and $2 for students


Bridget Balch: 540/374-5417 |