Celebrate America

Community CorrespondentJune 24, 2014 

The Oakhurst Community Band will present "Celebrate America," a free concert at 6:30 p.m., Sunday at Mountain Christian Center off Highway 49 behind True Value Home Center.

"The focus of this concert is patriotic," said publicity chairman Bob Curran. "We will be saluting our community's veterans with 'Armed Forces Medley.' The secondary focus is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, so we'll be celebrating America with a lot of our selections."

The community band is under the direction of Randy Hyatt who is assisted by Pat Mierkey. Currently, there are 45 community band members, many being area elementary and high school students. Hyatt, who recently retired as the director of the Yosemite High School music department, has served as the community band director since 2003.

Mierkey first began playing trombone with the community band 12 years ago and then volunteered to be assistant director. Last year, he celebrated his 50th year as a music educator. He also volunteers with the YHS music program.

"Our philosophy is that we give, by invitation, some of the young people that need a broader instrumental experience the opportunity to participate in the band," Mierkey said.

Mierkey's wife, Mary Helen, is the tympanist in the band and his son, James, will be playing piano with the smaller jazz/swing band that will be performing several pieces during the concert.

"In addition to providing spectacular concerts, our more experienced members mentor band students and assist YHS school programs," Hyatt said.

"The young people get a lot of valuable training from Hyatt and Mierkey," said Curran.

One of those young musicians is Cristian Mendoza, a junior at Glacier High Charter, Yosemite High, who plays in trumpet in both the community and Yosemite High bands. He has been a member of the band since he was a high school freshman.

Mendoza, the son of Ramon and Rhanell Mendoza of Oakhurst, has been playing the trumpet for eight years.

"I have a passion for music, and the community band challenges me to improve my musical skills, and gives me the opportunity to perform with experienced musicians of all ages," Mendoza said.

The patriotic theme of the concert will be carried out with the performance of "The Fourth of July" by John Cacavas, "To Heal A Nation" by James L. Hosay, and "The Star Spangled Banner."

"Yosemite Autumn" will focus on the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act of 1864. Details: (559) 760-3849, oakhurstband.com.

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