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Youth, veterans blend well in city band

August 23, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown Municipal Band's performance Sunday night capped its 90th year with its usual blend of experience and youth.

Several band veterans, including some professionals, said they were more than happy to share the stage with student musicians throughout a year marked by consistent good attendance.

Carl Rowe, Sunday's featured soloist and a trumpet teacher at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., said he enjoyed helping the younger musicians improve. He said having younger members helps many bands around the country thrive because it brings in a constant flow of new fans.

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"I think it's a great idea," Rowe said. "Bands like this tend to disband without younger players."

Eric Plum, of Greencastle, Pa., said many of the band's members were still in high school or college. Plum, in his fourth year with the band, said he and others recruit new members.

Among Plum's young protgs on Sunday was Joel Wentz, a 2004 Greencastle-Antrim High School graduate, who was playing his first show with the band.

"It's kinda cool being fresh out of high school and playing with these musicians," said Wentz, who plans to continue playing music after he starts at Huntington College in Indiana later this week.

Wentz said he was excited about the first show, and believes it will give him more reason to practice because it shows that students have options beyond school band.

Amanda Rummel, one of a large contingent of players from South Hagerstown High School, echoed the sentiment.

"It's a really good experience because you see where you could be in a couple of years," said Rummel.

The city-funded municipal band played its final of 11 concerts for 2004 at the Peter Buys Band Shell in City Park. The band plays a new, free musical program each week, weather permitting.

Director Lynn Lerew said he has enjoyed watching the newcomers develop in recent weeks, and over the years.

"The diversity is one of the neat things about the band," Lerew said. "The youths really are the future of this band."

Though Lerew lauded the young members' efforts to bring in a new audience, he credited the older, loyal fans' consistent appearances with making 2004 one of the most memorable in years.

"It seemed like every weekend was the 4th of July weekend," he said. "There were just good feelings all the way around."

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