Will Spencer, Feature Writer
The Martin Community Band recently concluded its annual program as musically-inclined residents of Martin and the surrounding area assembled for a series of rehearsals and concerts. Every summer since 2013, the program begins in mid-to-late May with the initial rehearsal, and it ends in late June with the final concert. The three concerts this year took place on The Stage in downtown Martin on May 25, June 8 and June 29, respectively.
Dr. John Oelrich, the founder of the Martin Community Band and a professor in the Department of Music at UTM, elaborates on the rehearsal process and music repertoire. After completing the online registration form, members participate in two successive rehearsals on Tuesday evenings and a concert every other Thursday evening.
“The first rehearsal is primarily a read-through and then roll-up-the-sleeves kind of rehearsal,” Dr. Oelrich says. “The second rehearsal is more digging in and getting comfortable with the music before the performance two days later.”
Moreover, he underscores that the scope of music they play is eclectic, covering a wide array of styles, genres, historical periods and composers, and each concert adheres to a particular theme for both audience and musician engagement. The band operates under a traditional concert instrumentation: woodwinds, brass and percussion.
The Martin Community Band is especially intent on upholding its namesake, and Dr. Oelrich attests to the program reinforcing community bonds. The group pulls from a diverse well of people from Martin and adjacent regions, and no one is rejected based on age or skill level.
“If you have musical experience, you are welcome to come and play. That approach has yielded involvement with musicians ages from 12 to 93 and from all backgrounds- from student, to amateur, to professional,” he says.
In addition to providing free entertainment for the region, stimulating local commerce and promoting fellowship among members, the Martin Community Band enables students and adults alike to hone in on their fine arts skills in an area where those opportunities are limited. Some drive from up to two hours away to participate, and this year, there were 105 members, ranging from budding middle-school musicians on summer break to band leaders from other counties to UTM music professors.
“Fine Arts are the backbone of any community. The Martin Community Band provides a musical opportunity for area musicians where none existed before. It gives students a place to continue their musical development during the summertime and community musicians a place to play high quality and interesting music at a high level,” he says.