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Hagerstown Municipal Band, audience concentrate on percussion

July 10, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • A crowd at City Park watches Sunday night as Lynn Lerew conducts the Hagerstown Municipal Band.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — It was audience participation night at the Hagerstown Municipal Band performance Sunday at City Park when the group introduced spectators to the art of percussion.

Before the band’s 7:30 p.m. performance at the Peter Buys Band Shell, percussionist Marlin Barnes invited a group of spectators on stage for a few short lectures on different percussion instruments.

Then Barnes allowed the spectators to take a few strikes on percussion instruments like the triangle, timpani and gong.

Among those participating was Cindy Borzilleri, who enjoys playing woodwind and string instruments.

But the Mechanicsburg, Pa., resident said she has been wanting to play drums since she was a child.

“I got the chance tonight to cross that off my bucket list,” Borzilleri said after making her way around to the different instruments.

The band’s performance Sunday night shined a spotlight on the percussion section as the group made its way through a couple of marches, Overture on an Early American Folk Hymn, some music from Hoagy Carmichael and other numbers.

Barnes told spectators that percussion did not get a lot of focus in early classical music and it was not until the mid-20th century that music composers started focusing on percussion to add different qualities of sound to their works.

Percussion is not about whacking an instrument as hard as you can, Barnes said.

Barnes showed spectators how to get different sounds from a triangle as he gently tapped one. He said a cymbal player can end up having cymbals “air lock” if the player does not strike them together at the proper angle.

The Hagerstown Municipal Band is in its  97th season. It started in 1915 when the decision was made to take about four community bands in the city and make them into one good band, said Lynn Lerew, conductor of the group.

Barnes said it is unique for a town to have a community band, and Lerew credited municipal leaders over the years who have had “the courage and the interest” to support the group.

The group is sponsored by the city.

“I’m blessed,” said Lerew, who has been directing the band for 36 years.

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