Casa de Weird (bunrab) wrote in community_band,
Casa de Weird

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The ACB convention

The Bel Air Community Band played at the Association of Concert Bands convention, in Williamsport, PA, on Friday. S and I took the band bus, along with 40 other members of the band; the rest of the band drove up. It's about a 3 to 4 hour drive from Bel Air to there. The drive up there took 3.5 hours, including a second stop north of Bel Air to pick up some people. Once we got to Williamsport, it took a few minutes to figure out where to unload 40+ people and their musical instruments. We had a rehearsal at 5:15 or so, after a certain amount of confusion about finding the dressing rooms to store our cases, and about rearranging the seating from the previous band's rehearsal.

After the rehearsal, we grabbed some of the inexpensive food they were selling - sandwiches and dessert, mainly - in another part of the hall - and then went to listen to the band that played before us, the Macungie Band, a 150-year-old organization from the town of the same name. They were quite good; they wore spiffy, Sousa-Band-style uniforms. Actually, all the other bands playing at this concert were from PA; we were the only band that came from out-of-state to play. (The attendees were from all over the country.) There was enough time between that concert and ours for everyone to dash from the audience to the dressing room and grab instruments, find bow ties, touch up make-up, etc. We played from 8:15 to 9:15, and if I say so myself, we were good.

No concert is perfect, but this one had very few problems. The main problem, from the point of view of the band members, was that our seating arrangement was almost entirely different from the one we use in rehearsals. The saxophones, all of us, were seated in front of the trumpets, in the center, instead of tenors in front of the trombones, on the conductor's right. (And the bari sax is usually back row, next to the tubas, and the altos are over by the clarinets, on the other side of the french horns from the tenors.) The french horns, instead of sharing a row between the tenor saxes on their left and the alto saxes on their right, were now directly in front of the saxes. This arrangement meant that suddenly I was sitting next to an alto sax, and that pretty much all I could hear was the bass drum and the trumpet section, and couldn't hear the trombones at all. Since one of the ways a band keeps together is to listen to each other, it's a bit unnerving to not be able to hear the parts one expects, and to hear instead parts one has never really been paying attention to before. This led to a bit of confusion in a couple of pieces, where for a few moments some of the brass were a beat off from others, but that happened only for a second, and wasn't really noticeable out in the audience. One other slight problem was that the stage was extremely warm, leading to sweating and uncomfortableness.

One of the pieces we played was by Patrick Burns, and we had Patrick Burns conducting us. That was popular with the audience. The last piece we played was "Joy" by Joseph Curiale, and that has such a catchy tune that as we climbed back on the bus 25 minutes later, most of the band members were still whistling or humming it. Early reports from the audience were positive, and I can't wait to hear the CD.
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