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Let the music begin

  • Written by Deborah Stone
trumpets
Last summer, the Woodinville Community Band performed at the Ballard Locks. Courtesy photo.
Nineteen years ago, Carol Edwards, publisher of the Woodinville Weekly, put an ad in her newspaper calling for musicians to form a community band in the newly incorporated city of Woodinville.

Over 40 people answered the call. The first rehearsal of the Woodinville Community Band was held on the parking lot of the Las Margaritas Restaurant.

Over the years, membership grew and rehearsals moved to larger facilities. Today, the band is one of the top tier symphonic groups in the Seattle area, attracting adult musicians from all over the Eastside and Seattle area.

Members, who currently number around 60, perform as a full concert band three times a year, with optional opportunities to play in adjunct groups including the Eastside Modern Jazz Orchestra and the Pacific Cascade Big Band, as well as in other music ensembles.

These talented volunteer musicians come from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and range in age from 17 to 70 plus.

“Our purpose is really to give adults an opportunity to continue making music beyond the high school and college years and to pass on our enjoyment of live music to the community,” explains Gary Anderson, president of the Woodinville Community Band. Anderson joined the group eight years ago. He played trumpet in high school.

“I took a 20-year hiatus from it,” he says. “And then my kids began playing instruments, which made me think more about it and I realized I really missed making music. I decided to get back into it.”

Prospective members must audition for the band and according to Anderson, they should have a solid musical background and experience. He adds, “They should be or should have been good students at the upper high school or college level and they should have the time and dedication necessary to rehearse and perform at a semi-pro level.”

The concert band, which is directed by Leah MacDuffie, plays a variety of genres of music including classical, contemporary, military marches, Broadway show tunes and movie soundtracks.

“We like to vary what we play,” explains Anderson, “and keep it fresh.” He adds, “We play at a level that’s not intimidating, but yet allows us to be challenged.”

Members stay with the group an average of five to six years. “I think people stick around for so long because they truly like being a part of a community. They like the camaraderie and it brings back the good feelings they had when they played in their school days. The band gives them a sense of belonging.”

The group rehearses once a week at Overlake Christian Church.

Two of the three free public concerts they perform are held at Redmond High School Performing Arts Center. The third is at the Ballard Locks in summer. Up next for the Woodinville Community Band is its spring concert, where it will play “Swords and Sorcery,” featuring Johan de Meji’s Symphony No. 1, Lord of the Rings. This piece predates the movies by a couple of decades, as it was written between 1984 and 1987. It is based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy of the same name. According to band director Leah MacDuffie, the symphony is a challenging one to play. She says, “Doing a concert like this is quite an undertaking. The group has really stepped up to harder rehearsals, keeping the end goal of a great performance in mind. It’s been wonderful to be able to dive into such rich scoring and hear the group improve as they start to really bring their musicianship skills to the page.”

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