BUCKSPORT, Maine — If you can’t run away and join the circus, perhaps the next best thing is to join the Down East Center Ring Circus Band for its concert each July in Bucksport. This year’s free concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 8, at Bucksport Performing Arts Center, Bucksport Middle School, at the end of Miles Lane.
In keeping with the tradition of musical offerings up and down the coast of Maine each summer, the live concert is a musical highlight with something for everyone. Children dance with the clowns and audience members sing along with select songs.
Every year, a full house erupts in laughter and applause at the variety of rarely heard live circus music and humorous circus anecdotes of conductor Gene Nichols, associate professor of music at the University of Maine at Machias. An incomparable showman and educator, Nichols performs regularly with the Arcady series and is a former director of music and former band director for the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus and Wild West Show.
The evening also serves as a benefit concert to raise money for scholarships for music students in Hancock, Penobscot and Washington counties. While the concert is free, the hat is passed — no obligation — with all proceeds going to the scholarship fund. Conceived and produced each year by retired educator and musician E. Donald Blodgett of Orland and Milwaukee, the scholarship program has awarded some $21,500 in scholarships since the first concert 15 years ago. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of a student’s application and letter of recommendation from the student’s music mentor. Scholarships may be used for music lessons, camp, instruments or equipment.
This year, Nichols will conduct a 50-piece circus band in selections of marches, specialty numbers, an overture, perhaps a solo or two, and just about anything one could ask for in happy, upbeat circus music. To mark the milestone 15th year of the concert, local music educators who have supported the scholarship program will be recognized during the concert.
The musicians come from Washington, D.C.; Florida; Connecticut; New Brunswick; New Hampshire; other New England states; and many parts of Maine. Several professional musicians, music educators and retired military band musicians are among the talented members of the band. Occasionally previous scholarship winners join the band. All of the musicians volunteer their time and efforts, which include two rehearsals and the performance.
Special program support is provided by the town of Bucksport, the Bucksport Area Cultural Arts Society, the Bucksport branch of Bangor Saving Bank, Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and individuals. Martha Pedrick, Circus Band secretary and treasurer, will preside over the award announcements. The goal is to meet or exceed the number of scholarships granted last year.
Students interested in applying for 2011 scholarships should contact Martha Pedrick at firstname.lastname@example.org or Joni Wardell, 480 Castine Road, Orland, ME 04472, for application information.