By Susan Morse
Hampton Union, August 15, 2003[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON - The first concert of the new Greater Hampton Community Band had an inauspicious start.
The 25-member band, made up of players between the ages of 12 and 50-something, managed to get through a 20-minute repertoire of popular music at the Hampton Falls Bandstand last Monday before being drowned and drenched out by thunderstorms. The band quickly struck up the "Stars and Stripes Forever" finale and packed up.
Despite the downpour, band director Tony Cyrus estimated that 30-40 people "hid under trees" to hear the concert.
Tonight at 6 p.m., audiences will get another chance to hear the band at the first concert to be held at the Marelli Park Bandstand in Hampton.
That the concert coincides with the kickoff of the annual Sidewalk Sales weekend event in downtown Hampton is the brainstorm of Funny Bones Toys owner and Sidewalk Sales coordinator Dave Schwab, who asked Cyrus to bring the band downtown.
The band’s last concert will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Tuck Field Park in Hampton. Betty Moore, of the Hampton Historical Society, plans to open the Tuck Museum an hour before the event, according to Cyrus. The Hampton Recreation Department is lending a hand in preparing the park and providing a bullhorn.
Both concerts have become a Hampton event, Cyrus said.
"It’s turned into a real community focus," said Cyrus, band director for Winnacunnet High School. "I wanted to give students and former students a place to play. I wanted to create a sense of community."
Cyrus modeled the Hampton band on bands in his former Bangor, Maine, community.
Cyrus - who plays trombone, piano and bassoon - played in the Orono (Maine) Community Band in high school and the Bangor Band as recently as five years ago. He said he’s been thinking about starting a community band in the Seacoast since moving here four years ago.
"I really think when kids take music in school, it’s the kind of thing they should be able to do forever," Cyrus said. "For the average player, there’s no place to play when you graduate. Maine has a tradition of community bands."
This year, he put the idea before the 14 graduating seniors in his classes.
"I want to keep those kids playing," Cyrus said. "Some of those 14 may never pick up an instrument and play again."
Five of the 14 joined. Cyrus also sent out invitations by e-mail and through the newspapers. The community band includes father-and-son trumpet players, father-and-daughter members, a music teacher from North Hampton and members of Cyrus’ family, including his wife, brother and son.
They began practicing on Monday nights in the high school music room in mid-July, for a total of six rehearsals. Some members hadn’t played an instrument in years.
"The first one was a little scary," Cyrus said. By the time the band gathered under the Hampton Falls Bandstand, the music had "grown a lot; it was incredible," Cyrus said. "They were so excited at Hampton Falls. I think they felt proud at how much better they were than when we started."
The community band will be revived again next summer. It may eventually turn into a year-round organization. Those interested in finding out more may send an e-mail to Cyrus at email@example.com.
For tonight’s event, Cyrus advises concert-goers to bring a chair or blanket.
"And it’s not going to rain," he said.
Winnacunnet High School students in the band include Amy Calderwood of Seabrook on flute; Kathryn Wood of Hampton on flute; Jennalynn Coulp-Yu of Hampton on oboe; Sean Berry of Hampton on clarinet; Matthew Oliver of Hampton on alto saxophone; Rachel Green of Hampton on baritone sax; Hoban Blume of Hampton on trumpet; Ben Roesch of Hampton on trumpet; Jeffrey Frese of Hampton on baritone horn; and Amy Carlino of Hampton on percussion.
Winnacunnet alumni include Heather Macomber of Hampton on clarinet; Robert O’Brien of Hampton on alto saxophone; Jeremy Shaw of Hampton on tenor saxophone; Tory Miller of Hampton on trumpet; and Stephen Healey of Seabrook on trombone.
Hampton Academy Junior High members include Cassie Heinrich of Hampton on oboe; Laurel Weatherbee of Hampton on alto saxophone; Jonathan Cyrus of Hampton on trombone; and Brett Gallo of Hampton on percussion.
Other members include Joanne O’Connor of Hampton on flute; Jane Shaub of Stratham on flute; Debra Eaton of North Hampton on clarinet; Edward M. Green of Hampton on clarinet; Gerhard Blume of Hampton on trumpet; Ed Cyrus of Nashua on French horn; Joanna Cyrus of Hampton on violin; and Mary Oliver of Hampton on mallets.