Exeter Community Band Growing And Glowing
Performing at Elmcroft
Pulling out the old instrument and shaking up those brain cells a bit, joking around with buddies, giving pleasure to audiences, and making some pretty good music – is this heaven or what? “A community band is a lot like Heaven,” admits one of the band’s past presidents. “There is a place for everyone: different strengths, talents, experience, and ages.”
And so it seems to be for this seventeen year old non-profit concert band. Founded in 2002 by a high school band director, the Exeter Community Band rehearses weekly under the direction of a professional conductor. %^ who leads it for a tiny honorarium and a lot of fun and camaraderie)&%$. In its early days, the band’s members were from Exeter Township, PA and the immediate environs. However, now it includes musicians from a wider territory. Although the name retains the word “Exeter,” any adults who can read music and play a band instrument are welcome.
Performance venues are diverse. Between ten to twelve times a year, the band performs for business promotions, charitable events, retirement communities, fairs, and church picnics.
A partial list of gig locations includes:
- Vist Bank,
- Boscov’s East
- Berks Jazzfest at Hopewell Furnace
- the Vanity Fair outlet stores
- Weis Markets in Oley
- The Oley Fair
- Douglassville Optimist Club’s Community Days
- Exeter May Days
- Relay for Life
- Reading’s River Fest
- Phoebe Berks Village
- several of the Keystone Villa Communities in and around Berks County
- Spies Lutheran Church Blueberry Festival
- Reformation Lutheran Fall Community Day
- Sacred Heart Villa
- Muhlenberg Township Arts Festival
Supporting Each Other
Weekly Rehearsals and Bonding
Tuesday night is the magic night for rehearsals and frequently for socializing afterwards. Rehearsal is at the Reformation Lutheran Church on Perkiomen Avenue in Reiffton from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. Anyone interested in checking out the band is welcome to sit in.
The 2-hour time slot includes a break, but the band also works hard to meet the needs of individuals. For years, one of the trumpeters worked as a radio personality at a local radio station during the very early morning slot. He just could not do well at his job the next morning if he stayed in a rehearsal through 9:00 p.m. Out of consideration for this situation, the conductor covered all critical music during the first hour of rehearsal and this member left at the break. Fine-tuning or work on non-trumpet parts occurred after 8:00.
The fun continues beyond the joy of playing music. For several years, anyone in attendance had the opportunity to win a scratch-off instant Pennsylvania lottery ticket pulled from a jar at the break. One needed to be present to win. The band reports, however, that no one won (or admitted to winning) anything big. Nonetheless, the anticipation of winning a few hundred dollars boosted spirits.
Furthermore, any member is “authorized” to declare a band pizza and beer gathering after a rehearsal. Usually this is announced in advance by email or at a prior rehearsal so that those members needing to make arrangements for a later night can do so. There have been memorable moments, as shown in the photo below.
Pepperoni Beer? Isn't this "craft beer flavor" going a bit too far?
The Musical Program
The music played varies greatly. In the early years, the selection leaned heavily towards marches (although the band does not physically march), patriotic songs and Broadway show tunes. Since then, the genres have spread to include jazz and swing, familiar opera snippets, Leroy Anderson pieces, and concert pieces commissioned for talented public school band competition.
The current director even arranges for the band and created a very popular fifties and sixties pop tribute and a travel-across-the-United-States medley.
A percussionist shared, “We have had some very challenging ‘out there’ arrangements and some very simple and beautiful tone poems and popular arrangements. Musically, it is never a dull moment.”
Popular and Fun
If one is looking for a free listening treat, this band’s recommendation is the number times hosting venues invite the Exeter Community Band to return.
Equally important, if one is ready for a bit of tolerable musical growth, for making music, and for suffering through mediocre jokes from band-mates, this could be the answer to one’s itchiness to return to playing.
Check this band out.
Percussion: The Real Crazies!
© 2011 Maren Elizabeth Morgan