Community bands present holiday music

December 18, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

Tri-State-area residents can get a good dose of live holiday music this weekend. Two community bands are having holiday concerts on Sunday. One concert features a musical arrangement dedicated to the last known surviving American veteran of World War I.

The Williamsport Community Band will perform at 2 p.m. in Williamsport High School's auditorium. The concert, which is expected to last about an hour, includes the tribute to WWI veteran and Jefferson County, W.Va., resident Frank Woodruff Buckles.

Afterward, you can drive to North Hagerstown High School, where, at 4 p.m., the Hagerstown Municipal Band will hold its first Christmas concert in about 25 years.

For decades, through 1981, the Municipal Band held a holiday concert as part of its winter concert series at The Maryland Theatre, said Lynn Lerew, band director. As more entertainment options became available, the audience for the winter concerts shrank, so the band decided to focus on its summer concert series at Hagerstown City Park.


For about the last five years, the band would play Christmas music during the second half of its last July concert and Santa would distribute candy, Lerew said. The band has a new board of directors, which decided to perform a real Christmas concert.

During the last July concert this year, the news was broken to the audience. Some people were disappointed they wouldn't hear holiday music that day, but there was a round of applause when the Dec. 21 holiday concert was announced, Lerew said.

Some of the Municipal Band members also play in the Williamsport Community Band, so they will have a busy afternoon.

The Williamsport band will perform holiday pieces as well as an arrangement dedicated to Buckles. Buckles, 107, who lives outside of Charles Town, W.Va., is expected to attend the concert, according to composer Kenny Bierschenk and band spokesman Noel Kunkle.

Bierschenk, 53, of Cincinnati, composed an arrangement of original music, narration about World War I, and three songs popular during the war - "Over There," "K-K-K-Katy" and "It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary."

Bierschenk was commissioned to compose the piece, "Doughboy Salute," by the U.S. Air Force Band in Dayton, Ohio, for the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day, which was Nov. 11, 2008. The Air Force has not worked the piece into their program yet, Bierschenk said.

When Bierschenk was doing research for the arrangement, he learned about Buckles and contacted the Williamsport Community Band in hopes a local band would perform "Doughboy Salute."

The 54-member band also will perform traditional holiday songs and will have a singalong to "Merry Christmas Everyone," Kunkle said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Williamsport Community Band holiday concert

WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21

WHERE: Williamsport High School auditorium, Williamsport

COST: Free

MORE: Performing a new piece by Ohio composer Kenny Bierschenk in honor of Jefferson County, W.Va., resident Frank Buckles, the last known surviving World War I veteran.

If you go ...

WHAT: Hagerstown Municipal Band's "A Christmas Celebration" concert

WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21

WHERE: North Hagerstown High School auditorium, Hagerstown

COST: Freewill offerings will be accepted and donated to the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts Foundation to go toward programming for the school, which is expected to open in August 2009.

The concert will include an alto saxophone solo by Scott Benford ("White Christmas"), a vocal solo by St. Maria Goretti High School student Krissy DiMercurio ("Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"), and a guest conductor, Rob Hovermale, for "Celtic Carol."

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