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Haywood Community Band Grows into Regional Ensemble

Haywood Community Band Grows into Regional Ensemble File photo

A delighted crowd of more than 350 people responded with a standing ovation at the season’s opening concert of the Haywood Community Band (HCB).

With over 60 members, a professional conductor Stephen Razo on the podium, and a performance schedule of nine free concerts, the band is seeking musicians from across the Smoky Mountain region.

Melony Bolden lives in Whittier and drives to Long’s Chapel in Waynesville each Thursday evening for the rehearsals. “Steve and assistant conductor Jenna Misch work us hard,” she said. “The improvement shows. Plus, I love that we're attracting additional talented players. I have a 35-minute drive each way, and even the long drive in the dark is worth it. I always look forward to rehearsal (and concerts too).”

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On Sunday, June 16, 6:30 p.m., the band will perform at the Maggie Valley Community Pavilion, 3935 Soco Road. The theme of the music will be Marches, Movies, and Musicals. Concerts are free. Donations are received at the concerts, however, to support the band’s camp and college scholarship initiatives for local music students and loans of band instruments for school students in need. It is wise to bring lawn chairs and many enjoy picnic meals.

Cullowhee resident David LeMay plays trumpet in both Jackson County’s Mountain Winds band and the Haywood Community Band. “I have played in Jackson County’s Mountain Winds band for years, but their season extends only from November to May.

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“Haywood Community Band’s season begins in April and runs through November. I really love this band because it gives me an opportunity to play all year round. Plus, all the good the band does through scholarships, loaner instruments, and other outreach to local youth. It’s a great organization and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

“The camaraderie that comes from participating in groups can be a very satisfying experience,” said Pat Buckner who plays bass clarinet. “Playing in the Haywood Community Band in Waynesville or the Mountain Winds Band in Sylva gives this experience to its members, older as well as high school students.”

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In their first season with the band, Omri Conrad drives to Haywood County from Bryson City for rehearsals and concerts. Omri has played the soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones for more than 30 years. “I don’t play because I’m a professional,” they said. “I play because I love being a part of the music, making it and being creative. It’s one of the constant things in my life that gives me purpose and joy.

“Do the things you enjoy; music has no age restrictions. Go to the closet/attic/basement, grab your instrument, dust it off and just play. It’ll come back to you. I promise.”

If interest in joining the Haywood Community Band, call band president Rhonda Kram, 828.456.4880.

Rehearsals are Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. at Long’s Chapel Methodist Church, 133 Old Clyde Road, Waynesville. For concert dates and locations, see the band website: haywoodcommunityband.com.

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