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Sounds of Spring

The Oakhurst Community Band will perform a concert of music reflecting “A Celebration of Spring” at 3 p.m. this Sunday at the Mountain Christian Center, 40299 Highway 49.

The band, beginning its 11th season, has won the community’s admiration for the quality and variety of its performances over the years.

The concert will be conducted by Randy Hyatt, director, Pat Mierkey, assistant director, and Andy Roche.

A special invitation is being extended to Mountain Area fifth through eighth grade students and their parents and grandparents, according to Bob Curran, publicity chairman.

“The purpose of the special invitation is so students can see and hear the band in person to pique their interest in learning to play a musical instrument,” Curran said.

The 50-piece band is made up of musicians of all ages including a number of elementary and high school students. Clarinetist Ted Strauss has been a part of the band since its inception.

“The discipline of rehearsing and performing with this group keeps my playing abilities in shape,” Strauss said. “Before moving to Coarsegold, I performed with the City of Bakersfield Municipal Band.”

He is quick to list his favorite musicians - the clarinet section of the band - Clyde Lansing, Susan Pludow, Marcia Souza, Oliver Seely, Deo Wolff and Penny Park.

“These are all fine clarinetists who show up to weekly rehearsals because they love to perform.”

Strauss began playing a musical instrument at the age of five, performing Bach Preludes and Fugues on the organ during church services. That eventually led to an opportunity to play the “Bach Organ” in the St. Thomas Cathedral in Leipzig, Germany, when he was 13 years old.

During college, he played in musicals, chamber music ensembles, concert bands and jazz bands.

“Music has always opened doors and offered opportunities that I would have, otherwise, never experienced,” Strauss said.

Sandy Schaefer who plays flute, piccolo and “when I get the chance, saxophone with the ‘big band’ arrangements,” has played with the Community Band since 2002.

“I hadn’t played my instruments for several years after moving to the Oakhurst area and happened to see an article in the Sierra Star about rehearsals starting for the Oakhurst Community Band,” explained Schaefer. “I called and talked with Randy Hyatt and knew immediately I wanted to play in his band. Randy continues to choose music that challenges all of us to stretch outside our comfort zones. I feel that has allowed me to grow my musical abilities.”

Her first experience with music was as a five-year-old when she took piano lessons from a neighbor.

“In fourth grade, I started playing violin in the school district music program, switched to flute in seventh grade so I could be in the marching band and continued throughout college,” Schaefer said.

Bill Samuelson plays trumpet in the Community Band, in addition to conducting selections for the concert, and has been a band member for more than 10 years.

“The Oakhurst Community Band is a way to keep my skills up as a trumpet player. I enjoy music that is rhythmically challenging and that has a lot of dynamic contrasts,” Samuelson said. “I also enjoy music that requires the entire ensemble to listen to each other in order to play in balance and in tune.”

Samuelson, the former music director at Minarets High School, said he grew up in a very small Central California town, but his high school had a very active band that competed in band reviews, went to festivals, performed halftime shows at every football game, and even traveled to Japan.

Jason Surin, a senior at Yosemite High School (YHS), has been in the Community Band for two years.

“Mr. Mierkey and Mr. Hyatt motivated me to join ... they told me that it would make me a better player and indeed it has,” Surin said. “Mr. Hyatt picks out fantastic music and it is a challenge to play the pieces. Although I am a tuba player, my favorite musician is a trombone player called Zoltan Kiss. I love watching the videos of him and his group, Mnozil Brass.

No one really encouraged Surin to pursue music when he was young.

“I just kinda signed up to try, and I fell in love with it,” Surin said. “Now here I am five years later and still playing. I highly encourage musicians to join the Community Band, not just for a challenge and to play great music, but to come and spend time with members of the community who share the same passion for music. I love the band. I love the members in it. I will always be a part in the Oakhurst Community Band.”

“A guest vocalist singing (Irving Berlin’s) ‘Blue Skies,’ will be Jackie McCourt, a senior at Glacier High School,” Curran said. “Also, Francisco Marquez, who is the YHS band director, will be playing a trombone solo in Morceau Symphonique by Alexandre Guilmant.”

“Video Games Live” by Marty O’Donnell, “Accolade” by Brady Massey, “Air for Band” by Frank Erickson, and “Upon the Wings of the Wind” by William G. Harbinson will be performed.

Additional selections include: “Shortcut Home” by Dana Wilson, “The Symphonic Gershwin” by George Gershwin, “Jazz It Up” by Victor Lopez, “Joy Revisited” by Frank Ticheli and “National Spirit March” by S. E. Hummell.

“This is a very friendly and encouraging group - this is not a group for beginners - the music we play can be quite challenging,” Samuelson explained. “But if you ever find yourself missing the fun you had in your high school or college band, there is no better time to dust off your instrument and rekindle your love for music with the Community Band.

There is no admission fee for the concert, although donations are accepted. The band is a non-profit public benefit corporation. Donations are used to purchase music and currently to replace musical instruments lost in last summer’s Junction Fire.

Details: (559) 760-3849, oakhurstband.com.

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