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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001047.txt from 2000/04

From: "David B. Niethamer" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Community Bands...
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 19:10:37 -0400

>At 09:10 PM 04/23/2000 -0400, you wrote:
>>..... the Williamsport
>>Repasz band which is the oldest non-military band in continuous existance....
>on 4/24/00 9:42 AM, George Kidder wrote:
>How old is that? (I presume you mean "in the US", as I"d bet some of the
>European bands are ancient, by our standards.) The Bar Harbor Town Band
>had been INCORPORATED for 100 years as of summer before last, but no one
>seems to know how long it had been around before that. It has played every
>year except during WWII.

When I was in HS and college in Pennsylvania (back when dinosaurs roamed
the earth!) I played in the Ringgold Band, which was incorporated in the
1850's as an attachment to a light artillery regiment of the U.S.Army. By
the 60's nothing could have been less military. One of the perks of going
to regular rehearsals was a beer refrigerator! Most of the clarinets had
been there forever - in fact, the younger members of the band often
opined that most of the older players had *been there* since the Civil
War (OOPS! War of Northern Aggression - I'm in the South now!) The
principal 2nd clarinet kept a lighted cigar in the clip of the feet of
the wire folding stand that he used. He also comp[lained mightily about
the poor quality of the Vandoren reeds, and told us weekly that "because
the new Vandorens are so bad, I'm still playing on pre-war (WWII!) stock."

John Phillip Sousa conducted the band in a rehearsal, went back to his
hotel for a rest before the concert, and died that afternoon (1932). Most
of us young hot-shots thought it was the quality of the playing that
killed him!

The marches were bound into two books, with those little marches two to a
page, top and bottom, with their titles cut off - you mostly knew them by
number. Supposedly this was so that competing bands (there were still 3
bands in Reading PA in the 60's) couldn't learn the titles and obtain the
music for themselves.

For all of this, it was a valuable professional training ground. 3 or 4
hour church picnic gigs can teach you a lot about reading and solid
technique when you're playing those old marches and overtures on one
weekly, beer soaked rehearsal.

And the home made Pennsylvania Dutch corn chowder can't be beat!


David Niethamer
Principal Clarinet, Richmond Symphony

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