Circus music is in the air

July 21, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • William Link

o For more information on the circus music convention, visit

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The circus is coming to town, minus the trapeze artists, animal tricks and overpriced popcorn.

Instead, Waynesboro residents William Link and Marjorie VonDrach are concerned with only the circus music. Not the canned music used today, but the waltzes, opera, ragtime and marches of yesteryear.

Through their membership in the North American organization Windjammers Unlimited, Link and VonDrach are hosting a convention for performers of circus music in July 2012. Almost a week of daylong rehearsals will culminate in public concerts July 20 at Waynesboro Area Senior High School and July 21 at Boyds Bear Country in Gettysburg, Pa.

Before then, Link and VonDrach are busying themselves with preparations.

"Where do you house all of these people?" Link said of one of his first concerns.

With no options for large groups in Waynesboro, Link and VonDrach toured hotels in surrounding communities. They needed rehearsal space in addition to a block of rooms.


"When we'd visit a hotel, the first thing Bill would do was go into the ballroom and whistle to see what the acoustics were like," VonDrach said.

They settled on Liberty Mountain Resort in Carroll Valley, Pa., and registered for all the rooms.

Link started participating in Windjammers Unlimited events eight years ago with the encouragement of his friend, the late Carl Thompson. The group meets every January in Sarasota, Fla., (home to the Circus Museum) and plays music from the 1850s to 1950s.

"During the summer, we go to different places in the country and Canada," said Link, who plays the tuba.

While Windjammers Unlimited officials were talking about the plans for 2012, Link remembered how Thompson, of Shippensburg, Pa., always talked about holding a meet in southcentral Pennsylvania.

"When Carl died, it was sort of like that idea died with him, but Bill resurrected it. ... There are a lot of positive aspects of having it here," VonDrach said.

She said the meet, which is expected to draw 150 players and their families, will have a positive impact on local businesses. A non-playing member, VonDrach will be recommending various activities and restaurants to the group.

Link and VonDrach said they hope attendance is good for the concerts; VonDrach said there are a number of music lovers in the Waynesboro.

"I think Waynesboro is really going to show up for this," she said of the concert at the high school.

Circus music encompasses a number of genres, with the music chosen to change audience members' moods depending on the act. For example, the song "Big Cage" was featured when animals were supposed to command attention, Link said.

Players will be practicing 65 pieces of music under 10 directors, he said.

"We're looking forward to seeing everyone coming to this area and being amazed," VonDrach said of their Windjammers Unlimited friends.

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