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Springfield Barn echoes with community music

May 02, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION

WILLIAMSPORT -- It used to house dairy cattle, but on Sunday, the big, bold sounds of the Williamsport Community Band blasted from the Springfield Barn.

The Town of Williamsport has been making improvements to the historic structure next to Byron Memorial Park with the intent of making it available for public events.

Last December, the town held a Charlie Brown Christmas celebration in the barn and Mayor James G. McCleaf said Sunday that about eight weddings are planned at the barn this year.

"And we haven't even started advertising," McCleaf said.

Sunday was the first time the Williamsport Community Band held its spring concert at the barn, which was built in 1755 by Otho Holland Williams, the founder of Williamsport.

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The sounds of the band echoed from inside the cavernous barn. More than 150 people were seated in and outside the barn for the free performance.

McCleaf said the acoustics in the barn are like those in Carnegie Hall and the band has been recording music in it.

The band made its way through about a dozen songs from an elevated stage. Huge doors on one side of the barn were opened, providing a view of the mountains in the distance. An occasional breeze blew through the building, providing relief on a warm afternoon.

Audience member Jack Klein was impressed by the place.

Klein, of Falling Waters, W.Va., said he expected the barn to be "a little rattier."

"It's kinda neat inside," said Klein, who agreed that the acoustics were good.

Noel and Susie Kunkle, two longtime music educators in the county, took turns directing the band.

Oboe player Gregory Shook also led the band through one song and before he started, he paid tribute to people like the Kunkles who have been devoted to music education in the county.

"These people have been such musical strongholds in this community," Shook told the crowd.

The new sidewalks winding up to the barn were finished less than a month ago, part of improvements that were made with about $25,000 in federal stimulus money, McCleaf said.

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