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Williamsport Community Band a family affair for some musicians

Nearly 300 people turned out to hear one-hour Christmas show

December 18, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

Playing flute for the Williamsport Community Band gives Maurice Treacy a chance to continue a hobby that he started more than eight decades ago.

"It's just wonderful," the 92-year-old Treacy said as he tuned his flute Sunday before the band's Christmas show at St. James Brethren Church. "I've been in bands since 1927, in other words, 80 years or more."

Treacy, who lives in Martinsburg, W.Va., said he practices about once a week to stay sharp. He said he believes playing the flute helps his fingers stay nimble.

Nearly 300 people turned out to see and hear Treacy and his 62 bandmates play the one-hour show.

Trumpets echoed, tubas bellowed and flutes whistled as the band opened the concert with a rendition of "O Come, All Ye Faithful."

Band Director Susie Kunkle said the band has hosted the free program for the last 14 years. It started rehearsing for the show earlier this fall.

"It's our way of giving back to the community," Kunkle said. "It's an opportunity for the musicians to pick up their instruments and play again."

Kunkle said the band is comprised of musicians from across the Tri-State area. They range in age from 11 to 92.

For some of the band members, the annual Christmas show is a family affair.

Trumpeter Allen Rodgers said he went to North Hagerstown High School. He plays in the band with his son, Hunter, 16, and his daughter, Destiny, 13.

He said 2011 marks the first year that the three have played together in the band.

"Band was extremely important to me in school," Allen Rodgers said. "That was my goal, to play in a concert like this with my kids."

Percussionist Keith Detrow and his wife, Mendy, play in the band with their 11-year-old son, Bryan.

"It's fun to do something as a family and something that's enjoyable to all of us," Keith Detrow said.

Tuba player Kevin Mitchell, 19, and his 15-year-old sister, Karyann, said they play in the band with their parents, John and Nancy.

"I love being with my family and playing as a group," oboist Karyann Mitchell said. "It's so awesome."

"We're all musically inclined," said Kevin Mitchell, who studies tuba performance at James Madison University. "It's just fun to do. I love coming back and playing these shows."

Kunkle said the event typically is held at Williamsport High School, but organizers no longer could afford to hold it there.

She said officials at St. James Brethren Church stepped in and let the band use the building free of charge.

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