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Summer series signs off

Hagerstown Municipal Band plays season finale

Hagerstown Municipal Band plays season finale

August 22, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN

andrews@herald-mail.com

Buys, Slater, Leptich, Maglio and now Lerew.

Over the last 50 years, Diana Shepherd has seen five of the Hagerstown Municipal Band's eight conductors and the music they made at City Park.

As the band's 91st season wound down Sunday, Shepherd was there to relish it.

"I think it pulls old and young together," said Shepherd, 56, of Hagerstown. "It's something (both) generations can enjoy."

She proved her point by leaning over and holding the hands of her 11-month-old granddaughter, Lily Valentine. As Lily smiled and bounced, so moved her grinning grandmother.

Director Lynn Lerew said he looks for a musical balance that will both challenge his band and appeal to his audience. Marches, show tunes and overtures usually are in the mix.

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On Sunday, listeners parked themselves on benches, blankets and chairs for the free show - the last one until next summer.

"Even on the hottest summer day, like today, it's so nice and cool under the trees," Shepherd said.

Indeed, a parted canopy of trees cocooned the crowd from the general doings of the rest of the park.

Children slid, swung and squealed on a playground. People ambled on a path around the lake. To the side of the bandshell, stage left, a barbecue fire danced in the darkening evening.

But music was the lure for many.

Even honking geese couldn't drown out Gioacchino Rossini's "The Italian Girl in Algiers," part of the season's melodic swan song.

Reclining against a fat tree trunk, Tom Robinson of Hagerstown was most thrilled with the size of the crowd.

"They're here to hear this," he said, having just heard the band's tempo quicken during "Rolling Thunder," a Henry Fillmore march. "That's cool."

Robinson rode his bicycle to the concert, as did John Ridenour, who lives in Potomac Towers.

"These senior citizens like this," Ridenour said.

Something clicked.

"And I'm a senior citizen," Ridenour, 65, added.

The rolling field of City Park at the Peter Buys (pronounced "Beez") Band Shell lifts spectators in the back a little above those on the front benches.

Still, David and Dolly Lubic of Martinsburg, W.Va., chose a higher perch. They sat on a ledge outside the Mansion House Art Center, several steps up from most everyone else.

"We've been (coming) here for years, probably 20," Dolly Lubic said of the concert series.

"More like 24 years," David Lubic said, remembering when the couple moved to this area from Wheeling, W.Va.

"It's traditional," he continued just before the band began a three-part tribute to composer Percy Grainger. "It's stepping back to America of, say, the 1890s."

Lubic said he's fond of the Hagerstown band's tie to "The March King," John Philip Sousa.

Buys, who conducted the Hagerstown Municipal Band from 1920 to 1959, previously belonged Sousa's band - which drew Sousa here.

"The March King visited Hagerstown frequently in the 1920s to see Buys and bring him the famous bundles of manuscript (that Sousa wrote for Buys' bands)," the band's Web site says.

"In the evenings, when he visited Hagerstown, Sousa led the Hagerstown Band. Halfway through the program, he would call Dr. Buys to the podium and turn over the baton to Dr. Buys.

"They were truly golden years of American bands and their music and the Hagers-town Municipal Band was, still is, and hopefully will continue to be, part of a rich musical heritage."

Lerew, having now completed his 31st year as director, agreed.

In between preshow sips of coffee, Lerew glanced at what looked to be about 500 people waiting for the show and said, "It just gets better and better."

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