Hagerstown native is first class on the tuba

One of South High's original alumni returns to perform

One of South High's original alumni returns to perform

May 20, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

It's been 50 years since Dave Bragunier stepped on the stage at South Hagerstown High School to play his tuba as a member of the school's first graduating class.

This Wednesday, Bragunier will return to that very stage to perform "Beelzebub," the same composition he performed that day in 1957. He will perform solo with the school's Wind Ensemble backing him up during the school band's Spring Concert.

While Bragunier is an accomplished tuba player, having performed with the National Symphony Orchestra for 43 years, he still has had some nerves to get over because he hasn't played regularly since retiring in 2004.

"I can't come up there and make a fool of myself," said Bragunier, 68, who now lives in Arlington, Va. So he returned to his NSO practice regimen a few months ago, practicing every day without skipping a day.


"I think my chops will be in shape," Bragunier said. "I have high hopes."

Bragunier described "Beelzebub," written in 1932 by A. Catozzi, as a dated piece that has a "kind of corny theme," but it's for sentimental reasons he selected it. Brad Smith, a former South High band director, will conduct that piece.

For three years, Bragunier has occasionally stopped by his alma mater to help teach the school's tuba players.

South Hagerstown High School Band Director Katherine Seman said the band program is lucky to have Bragunier offer his services to help the band any way he can.

"He loves the students and has a great love for the band program, even though it was 50 years ago (he was a student here)," she said.

The students were excited to work with him, she said.

This school year, Bragunier has been working with junior Jeff Jacobson in the Wind Ensemble and sophomore Trent Embly in the Concert Band.

The concert Wednesday evening will feature the school's Wind Ensemble, about 35 students, and the Concert Band, about 40 students, Seman said.

Bragunier also will perform other selections with the Wind Ensemble.

The ensemble will dedicate Frank Ticheli's "An American Elegy" to honor the Virginia Tech students who died as a result of a gunman's attacks April 16, Seman said. The piece was written in 1999 in memory of those who lost their lives at Columbine High School and in honor of the survivors.

The Concert Band will perform Ticheli's "Amazing Grace" and "Americans We," a march by Henry Fillmore, Seman said.

If you go to the concert ...

WHAT: South Hagerstown High School's annual Spring Concert

WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 23

WHERE: South Hagerstown High School auditorium, 1101 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

COST: A donation is requested.

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