Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Picnic in the Park 2010

Here's a shot of the Kenwood Players at the Picnic in the Park this past Monday. The temperature was nearly 100 degrees and the heat index was higher. We played an early set from 5:30 until 6:15, then the A Touch of Dixie group (me on banjo and a vocal) played from 6:45 until 7:15, then the community band played the national anthem at 7:30, the community chorus sang, and then the band played from 8:15 until 9:00. The Kenwood Players then did a short set between 9:00 and the fireworks at 9:30.

We all played well, and the crowd was nicely appreciative of all the bands and the chorus. I want to do a few separate posts on various things, this one being to give context. This event was the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people, and for me it was a testing ground for lots of things I've been trying to accomplish, and overall there's a solid sense of success. Here's a snip from an email Charles Torian, the conductor of the community band, sent out.

Please allow me to thank you for the fine season we have enjoyed together. Monday's performance 'took the cake' in terms of your playing especially well in severely adverse conditions. It's been a long time since I've had to work in those temperatures, but you met the challenge with grace, an uncomplaining demeanor, and a real excellence in your pitch, which could have been a major disaster if you hadn't maintained the control you exhibited. I was proud to be able to accept, on your behalf, the applause of the audience as it increased during your program.

Maestro Charles sat right behind the Kenwood Players during our first set, the first time he'd heard us. He was very complimentary of the little arrangement I'd done for the group that strings together "Yankee Doodle", "Shortenin' Bread", and "Oh! Susanna." He also really liked the way the tubas were amplified, and suggested that in the future we might try that for the community band. 

Besides being our first director who has committed to the long term leadership of the band, Charles is a fine arranger. He's working on translating some brass band music from the Civil War era into something the band can play. Also, Orange is the home of President Zachary Taylor as well as James Madison, and a Taylor family member has asked the community band to play over at Montpelier in November at an event celebrating President Taylor. Charles, with his knowledge of historical music troves down in Richmond, has found some piano music written in honor of Zachary Taylor and is working out some arrangements for the band to play. All the historical stuff is great, but having music created just for our little group is terrific.

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