New Horizons Band boasts musicians with varied backgrounds

June 24, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

Ernie Wetterer of Sharpsburg got fascinated with the trumpet when his son was learning in 1970. Wetterer took lessons for six months before stopping.

He started to play again in 1997, when the New Horizons Band program - designed for people older than 50 - was offered for the first time at what was then Hagerstown Junior College.

The local program was started by Kate Levy, who had come from Iowa City, Iowa, where she was brass instructor for Iowa City New Horizons Band - one of the four pilot programs in the country patterned after the Rochester, N.Y., program at Eastman School of Music. There now are more than 75 in the United States and Canada, according to the program's Web site at


The Hagerstown Community College New Horizons Band, now under the direction of Carl Rowe, continues. Rowe, trumpeter with The President's Own U.S. Marine Band for 22 years and principal trumpet for 19 of those, also teaches at Shenandoah University and gives private lessons. He's a substitute player for the Harrisburg and Maryland Symphony orchestras, and he plays with the Hagerstown Municipal Band and a slew of other ensembles.

His challenge is trying to find music that is challenging and interesting to his New Horizons Band, and he said his players really enjoy their participation. "They have a good time."

"We make some pretty music," said Lillian Gilbert of Hagerstown, who's played French horn - properly called horn, she said - in the band for nearly three years.

Gilbert, 70, and a few other horn players, including Jeanne Nidecker, 74, of Frederick, Md., traveled to a New Horizons Band camp at the University of Delaware last week.

The days were long.

"It's hard work, but it's fun," Nidecker said.

She had played piano as a kid, and took up the horn at age 60. It has become an important part of her life. Gilbert agreed.

"Music is the bread of my soul," Gilbert said. "It soothes your spirit. It lightens your life."

Wetterer, 75, enjoys learning and playing with the other New Horizons musicians, many of whom have become friends.

"I just enjoy music," he said.

If you go

New Horizons Band

7 p.m. Sunday, June 27

Shafer Memorial Park



The next session of New Horizons Band begins with Hagerstown Community College's fall semester. New members are welcome.

For information, call Anne Myers, program manager for Lifelong Learning, at 301-790-2800, ext. 582.

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