Yesterday the Nevada County Concert Band Invited Players from similar bands to join them for a summer afternoon concert. Musicians came to Nevada City from as far as Long Beach and Denver, bringing all sorts of band instruments, including a very rare bass sarrusophone. That made my driving an hour from Sacramento with a clarinet a little less remarkable. The day's band of about 130 (about 50 members of the Nevada County band and 80 guests) rehearsed for three hours in the morning. We rehearsed in a shaded picnic area surrounded by trees and a shallow stream. This was all in Pioneer Park, about three blocks from downtown Nevada City. This is one of the greatest city parks I have ever seen.
The morning rehearsal went so well it was a joy. The participants had actually learned their music before the rehearsal! I need to find more people who do that.
Cheryl Woldseth, the band's director, was unbelievable. She is everything you could want in a community band leader and then some. She sent several reminder emails prior to the rehearsal to gently threaten us to learn our parts. Everything was perfectly organized, which is no small feat for a group of this size and a truck full of equipment. Cheryl's direction was excellent. I always love playing for a director who has reviewed the scores so thoroughly that she is in constant direct nonverbal communication with the band. I sneaked a photo of the master at her work.
You can't see Cheryl's full face in this picture because I waited until she was cuing a section far from me. I didn't want to be caught acting flaky in a rehearsal. (Yes,we played "A Tribute to Elvis" complete with real impersonators.)
We had a few hours off in the afternoon. Most of the out-of-towners took it easy because the mid-day weather was warm and most of us aren't spring chickens. Several of us gathered under the shade of cedar and redwood trees in the band shell's grove. There are few times in your life when you can see a man and his sousaphone appear out of the roiling heat.
It was like a scene from “Lawrence of Arabia”, but with a sousaphone, trees and no camels. Besides that, the same.
The concert drew a crowd of several hundred happy picnickers. We played our encore of “Stars and Stripes Forever” with no rehearsal. It went great. Our rendition of this great march compelled a young boy to run around in circles until he fell down. That's the greatest complement any musicians can possibly get. Kids are honest. I can honestly tell you that you have not lived a complete life until you hear the grand chorus of this march with thirteen trombones standing behind you. That experience ranks with the first time I heard The Ramones live, sometime around 1980. Seriously.
The Nevada County Concert Band has a similar event every year, as well as several other concerts each year. If you live in the Sierra foothills, you should go to the invitational concert. You will almost surely find me in the clarinet section.