With the holidays upon us and good cheer abounding despite the fact too many of our fellow citizens in uniform are in harm’s way far from home and a tough economy forces us to make difficult choices, we have much to be thankful for, including the joy brought to us by one very special group of musicians.
Our historic Bangor Band, now in its 152nd season, is one of the oldest continuous community bands in the country, and we can take great pride in that fact.
The band, under the leadership of conductor Dr. Fred Goldrich of Trenton, will present its annual, free Christmas concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19, in the Bangor Civic Center.
Those who arrive early will enjoy the melodic entry music of a brass ensemble playing swing versions of traditional Christmas music in the foyer and, for the little ones, a visit by Santa Claus is sure to put an extra bit of holiday sparkle in their eyes.
The band is always looking for new members. It rehearses every Tuesday evening from late September through mid-May at Bangor Parks and Recreation, 647 Main St., with the summer months devoted to its outdoor concert series.
More information is available at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 944-4193.
While the band is doing something for us to help make the holidays more festive, I am taking this opportunity, on my behalf and yours, to publicly thank and recognize the commitment of these 48 musicians who so graciously and steadfastly maintain not only the quality of the band but its continuity.
Many of you know one or two members of the band. A few of you know several, and some may know many. But do you know them all?
And have you ever had the opportunity to thank them for their service to this city, this area and this state?
Let’s start by thanking the big man so many of you do know: Bangor’s beloved, friendly neighborhood pharmacist, percussionist Billy Miller, who has been with the band longer than anyone.
This is Billy’s 57th year keeping the beat for the Bangor Band.
It would be fun to know whether Billy also could be described as one of the longest-serving members of a community band. I searched the Internet for such information but what I found was more akin to who was the oldest member of a band, not the longest-serving.
Next in line of service is trombonist Don Meninghaus of Bangor, a 32-year band member, followed by Henry Watson of Howland who is the assistant conductor and plays bass and clarinet. He has been with the band for 25 years.
The “teens” in length of service are percussionist Lynette Woods of Trenton, 19 years; trombonist Don Blodgett, Milwaukee, Wis., 18 years; Dianna Wyman of Fairfield on the piccolo and flute and clarinetist Steve Gant of Bangor, both 17 years; trombonist Jim Trembley, Orrington, 15 years; my Bangor neighbor Steve England on trumpet, 14 years; and Bob Pentland of Ellsworth, playing the euphonium, and flutist Michelle Share of Hampden, both 13-year band members.
The Bangor Band “tweens” are Bob Haskell of Deer Isle on alto sax and Dick Stark of Castine, who has played French horn with the band 12 years, and 10-year clarinetists Effie Littlefield of Orrington and Dale Brownie of Stetson.
What I’ll call the “middlers” are nine-year band members Jean Roberts, a bassoonist from Bangor, Tom Frey of Hampden on trumpet and clarinetist Julie Brownie of Stetson.
Trumpeter Jeff Churchill of Orrington has been with the band eight years and, with seven years of service, are JoAnne Russum of Holden on the alto sax, Bangor trumpeters Lori Wingo and Dan Astran and clarinetist Gary Hunt of Orono.
Clarinetist Scott Rapaport of Bangor is a six-year band member and conductor Goldrich, trombonist Richard Noyes of Bucksport and tuba player Erin Murphy of Orono have been with the band for five years.
The “youngsters” include trumpeter Sue McKay of Bangor, clarinetist Dick Raymond of Castine and flutist Cathy Segee of Old Town, each with four years’ service.
Playing their third year with the band are Katie Bryant of Lincoln, tenor sax; French horn players Mandy Cushman of Bangor and Molly Segee of Old Town, Tom Wheeler of Gales Ferry, Conn., on the euphonium and oboist Garret Hale of Medway.
In the “toddlers” category are clarinetist Nancy DeLorenzo of Levant, bass clarinetist Charlie Foster of Bangor, trumpeters Mary DeLorenzo of Levant and Fred Irons of Orono, percussionist Michael Cushman of Bangor and flutist Sonja Grosjean of Levant, who are all in their second year.
The “newbies,” or those enjoying their first year with the band, are Joanie Wardell of Orland, alto sax; tuba players Trevor Marcho of Bangor and Candace Hart of Ellsworth, percussionist Howard Jones of Hampden and flutists Ally McKnight of Winterport and Tricia Clark and Dianna McNult, both of Bangor.
So there you have it: our Bangor Band.
Thank you for all you do throughout the year to help make it possible for us to hold true to the belief that you may well be members of the second-oldest, continuously performing community band in the United States.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; email@example.com; 990-8288.