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It’s our second-to-last rehearsal, and I’m amazed that at how far we have come in just five weeks! Our director, Elizabeth Eleck, stops us once or twice to redo a few bars, but we play through the entire first movement of Gustav Holst’s “Suite in E-flat for Military Band” very well. We’re ready!
I’m at the fourth of six rehearsals for the 2015 Dryden Area Intergenerational Band & Chorus. This group is composed of residents from 20 communities throughout central New York who come from all walks of life, skill levels, and ages. But they all have at least one thing in common—a desire to make music and share it with others. For six times during the summer, the band and the chorus meet to rehearse, and then cap off the season with two performances in August.
I look around at the group: not only has the tenor sax player from last year returned, but a new tenor sax player has also joined our section. As an adult learner of the saxophone who is relatively new to playing in a band, I appreciate being surrounded by knowledgeable young people and adults. Our five tuba players have all returned this year, too—our group is known for having a substantial low-brass section! There are young musicians under 12, others older than 70, and all ages in between. My daughter is playing percussion this year. Our conductor’s daughter plays French horn. Another family has members playing saxophones, French horns, and trombones! And there are other family groups too. One in particular—the group’s founder and her family—has been with the group for all 20 years.
For many years, Jody Earle told her family that she wanted to start a summer music group. In 1995, planning began, and in 1996 she gathered her family and a small group of Dryden musicians to perform in an intergenerational band and chorus for the Dryden Bicentennial celebration. Interest in the group grew, and now, 20 years later, Jody is still leading the Dryden Area Intergenerational Band & Chorus, and she, her husband, and their two grown sons still play in the band and sing in the chorus.
But, the group has also grown. This year over 100 musicians from 20 communities in central New York participated. Elizabeth Eleck conducts the band, and Jennifer Rafferty directs the chorus. The founding principles of the group are still honored: to be an all-inclusive recreational music group for people of all ages and all skill levels. Auditions are not required and no fees are charged. Funding comes primarily from grants, Town of Dryden sponsorship, and voluntary participant and audience donations.
This year, in celebration of our 20th anniversary, there will be a special treat. We commissioned renowned local composer, Sally Lamb McCune, to write a piece that will be premiered by the combined band and chorus at the August concerts. The lyrics for the composition are from the poem, “The Heart of the Tree,” by 19th century Oswego poet Henry Cuyler Bunner. Band and chorus members are all excited about this piece because of its beautiful melody and lyrics, and also for the symbolism of a tree as a metaphor for building a community around the love of music.
The metaphorical tree of community music that Jody Earle planted 20 years ago has grown and branched, and its fruits can be enjoyed by everyone this weekend. The Dryden Area Intergenerational Band & Chorus will be performing in two free concerts at the Dryden High School Auditorium on Saturday August 8 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, August 9 at 3:00 p.m.
To learn more about the DAIB&C, visit us online at http://drydenareabandandchorus.blogspot.com, “Like” us on Facebook (/DAIBandChorus) or email Diane at IntergenerationalBand@gmail.com
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