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Community band concert a homecoming

May 03, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

WILLIAMSPORT -- Trivia and commitment to local music blended with a homecoming Sunday afternoon during the 11th anniversary concert by the Williamsport Community Band.

More than 100 people turned out at Springfield Middle School's auditorium to hear musicians including Patrick J. White, a 1989 graduate of Williamsport High School.

White has been a member of the Hazel River Band, a bluegrass group, and is currently with the U.S. Navy's Country Current, a country and bluegrass band. White has also performed on the Grand Ole Opry and has for U.S. presidents.

White returned to Williamsport Sunday, playing "Theme from Schindler's List" with the community band backing him.

Then he kicked things up a bit with a little fiddle music.

"I have a question: 'Why isn't Amy up here playing clarinet?'" said White, drawing laughs from the crowd.

White was referring to his wife, the daughter of Susie and Noel Kunkle, who took turns conducting the band Sunday.

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White said he started playing the violin when he was 7 years old.

Williamsport Mayor James G. McCleaf II remembers White well at the high school level.

"He was unbelievable then," said McCleaf, who plays trumpet in the community band and graduated from high school with White.

The Williamsport Community Band played tightly, switching from bold, dashing numbers to slower tunes.

Susie Kunkle, a native of Williamsport, served 30 years in the field of music education and became the second director of the Williamsport High School Blue Band. Noel Kunkle led bands at Clear Spring and North Hagerstown high schools, among other jobs. "This is the best half of the dynamic duo," Susie Kunkle told the crowd.

Noel Kunkle had been in New York judging a heritage music festival but returned Sunday to help conduct and play in the band.

"Isn't that great? Williamsport Community Band is very lucky," said band announcer Nelson Deal.

Deal offered bits of trivia during the concert, including the fact that Noel Kunkle led the Clear Spring High School band when the group performed at the Kentucky Derby in 1973.

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