The Oakhurst Community Concert Band will celebrate patriotism with a free patriotic big band concert at 6:30 p.m. this Sunday at Mountain Christian Center.
“We offer the concert to celebrate our country and its veterans,” said Bob Curran, publicity chairman for the band, who added veterans will be recognized and honored for their service to the country as “The United States Armed Forces Medley” arranged by Robert Cray is played.
Band conductor Randy Hyatt will share the conducting baton with Pat Mierkey, Bill Samuelson, and Mike Corrigan. Chaplain-Colonel Steven Eddy will emcee the concert, a duty he also performed for last year’s concert.
Mierkey will conduct the “Colonel Bogey March,” written by Kenneth J. Alford and Corrigan will direct “The March From 1941” written by John Williams.
Samuelson will conduct the four numbers to be performed by the Jazz Band. They include “Caldonia” by Fleecie Moore; “I’m Beginning to See the Light” by Don George, Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington, and Harry James; “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” by Ellington and Bob Russ; and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Don Gibson.
The 60 Community Band members are musicians of all ages who share a common passion for music and for sharing that music with the community in three annual concerts.
One often hears the phrase, ‘we are like family,’ but in the case of the Oakhurst Community Band, some of the members truly are family.
Samuelson plays the trumpet when not conducting and Claire, his 15-year-old daughter, plays the flute. Corrigan plays the clarinet when not conducting and son Matthew on trombone and euphonium joined the band about one month ago. Ted Strauss plays clarinet and son Erik, a sophomore at Northern Arizona University, has played percussion with the band for about five years having joined the group as a freshman in high school. Alto saxophonist Kelsey Montalto, a Yosemite High School tenth grader, and her mother, Stacey, on euphonium both joined the band four years ago.
Kelsey was in sixth grade when she first joined the band.
“For years I had watched my mom play in her community band in Los Angeles, and I always wanted to play in the band with her,” Kelsey said. “When we moved up here and she said that there was a community band that I could join, I was very excited.”
Kelsey said Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, Vince Guaraldi, and her mom and dad all influenced her interest in music.
“I also started out on the recorder and piano when I was young. The funny thing is that I hated my piano teacher so I quit after a week and I’ve taught myself how to play since then,” Kelsey said.
Now she plays a variety of woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments.
“I play percussion, mostly mallet instruments like the xylophone,” Erik said. “Playing in the band has really improved my skill with the mallets. It also let me see how different it is playing with a whole band instead of just a percussion group. My dad has definitely been my biggest inspiration to play music. I’ve been listening to his music since before I could remember and he has always pushed me to play.”
Erik said he remembers going to the Pizza Factory on Thursday nights to watch his dad play in the Yosemite Dixieland Jazz Band. The group still plays there.
This will be Claire’s first concert as a Community Band member.
“I realized what an interesting experience it would be to actually play in the same band as my dad instead of him being my conductor,” she said. “My early musical influences were my father and older siblings because they were always involved in musical events at church or school and, naturally, I wanted to do it with them.”
Claire said participating in the Community Band is a great opportunity to grow as a musician and a very enjoyable way to serve the community.
Attending concerts as he grew up influenced Matthew’s interest in music.
“My father and my past music teachers inspired me to continue with my music,” Matthew said. “Being a member of the Community Band has motivated me to practice.”
He encourages others in the Mountain Area to join the band.
One thing all of these young musicians have in common is encouragement by their parents to participate in the band, however they each have their own favorite genre of music, composers and musicians.
For Matthew it is big band. His favorite composer is John Williams and Jens Lindemann is his favorite musician. Erik favors classic rock like AC/DC and the group’s lead guitarist Angus Young.
“I don’t have a favorite genre of music ... I’m all over the place ... I enjoy all kinds, from classical to pop to rock,” Kelsey said. “I don’t have a favorite composer. In my opinion there are too many great composers to name a favorite, but my list includes names such as John Philip Sousa, Joe Hisaishi, Hans Zimmer, and John Williams.”
“My favorite genre of music is marches,” Claire said. “I am also influenced by Drum Corps International (DCI) because they show how amazing music is and demonstrate the potential of a great musician.”