We didn't have a very exciting Memorial Day - Ryan worked and I did laundry. We didn't get together with anyone and we had a casserole for dinner, not the typical bbq. We didn't see any parades or bike races. We don't even have a flag to hang out. I was feeling a little bummed about our lack of celebration, so thankfully I'm playing in the local Citizen's Band this year. The first concert was yesterday evening.
I'd always wrinkled up my nose at the thought of playing in a community band or orchestra. I felt that it would just be disappointing after the other ensemble experiences I've had. But Citizen's Band is unique amongst community bands. It's been around for over 160 years and the performers range from talented high school students to people in their 80's. Some of the older members have been playing in the band for 50 or 60 years. Several members of the band are war veterans, one of whom hang-glided in behind enemy lines on D-Day. Most of the local band directors, studio teachers, and orchestra members participate in the band, which definitely helps the quality of the playing. The band is primarily a sight-reading band. For most concerts we only have one rehearsal the evening before. We don't get the music until that rehearsal, so we sight-read it and perform it the next night. And the band is very skilled at pulling it off. Apparently they're hoping to start having the band tour occasionally - performing at a conference in the next couple of years and then a trip to Europe after that.
The music isn't middle-school level either. Well, occasionally they'll throw one of the better of those in there, but for the most part it's good music. At our concert last night we played the to-be-expected patriotic pieces such as Armed Forces Salute and Stars and Stripes (as a side note, does anyone else get sick of Sousa marches?). But we also threw in there the ever-favorite Beguine for Band (remember that one Susan?), which isn't nearly as annoying when not paired with 15 other schmaltzy pieces, and even a great transcription of Shostakovich's Festive Overture. Definitely sight-readable material (though I did have to practice a few licks in the Shostakovich), but it seems they stick to good quality sight-readable material.
It was awesome to be able to play at the Memorial Day concert. We let Gareth stay up late so that he and Ryan could come. The audience consisted of mostly elderly people (I'm curious to see if that's always the case or if it's just due to the holiday) which meant there were actually several veterans in the audience. Playing that concert was a great way to feel a part of the community and feel that we'd done something to celebrate the holiday.