I went to a rehearsal of the Lafayette Concert Band tonight — the community band from Lafayette, NY, that is, not to be confused with the band of the same name from Lafayette, LA. Brought along my Evette & Schaeffer B♭ clarinet. The director, Norm Wanzer, had said he needs 2nd/3rd clarinets more than he needs another bass clarinet. It was the first time I’d played clarinet in a group — Interröbang Cartel doesn’t count — since the one band rehearsal I went to while in grad school, and before that the wind ensemble at WPI, just about thirty years ago. It probably wasn’t literally more notes played in two hours than I’d played on clarinet in those thirty years, but close.
Joining a community band was something I’d been thinking about for a while, but didn’t take action on until we moved back closer to Syracuse. There are several of them around, and I’d told myself I was going to visit two or three or four of them before deciding to join one. Tonight I’m thinking of maybe not bothering. I liked the people I met, the director made a good first impression, and I especially liked the repertoire. They have a lot of marches, and I’m not that fond of marches, but most of the rest is classical stuff, written or arranged for band. Notably absent are pieces along the lines of “The Best of the Carpenters” or “Selections from Harry Potter”. I commented favorably on that to Norm afterwards; it seems he and I share a lack of interest in playing the fluffy stuff. (What was rehearsed tonight: “Colonel Bogey”, Holst’s “First Suite”, Frank Ticheli’s “Fortress”, “In Storm and Sunshine”, Bernstein’s “Slava!”, and Vaughan Williams’s “Toccata Marziale”.) In short, it’s pretty much the kind of band I’d like to be in, and it’s the closest one to home too. The main drawback I see is that they practice on Tuesdays, which is Thornden Morris’s practice night, but Thornden doesn’t practice much these days anyway. Also, I’d like an opportunity to play bass clarinet, but maybe it’s for the best to focus on the soprano instrument for now.
There seems to be a law that all Syracuse area community bands must have web sites that range from out of date to inadequate to nonexistent, and this site is shown to be less useful than it looks by the fact that it lists as the director of the Skaneateles Concert Band a man who has been dead for over seven years. So it’s been a bit of a challenge getting contact information, and at one point on a whim I took a look at the directory of teachers at Jamesville – Dewitt High School, from which I graduated in 1973. Rather to my astonishment, I learned that Ron Nuzzo, the band director at JD when I was there, is now… the band director at JD. So I emailed him, and he helped.
So now I need to look into getting my clarinet into better shape, and getting its clarinetist into better shape.