News Column

Afternoon concert sets the tone for old-fashioned Fourth in Henderson

July 5, 2014

By Beth Smith, The Gleaner, Henderson, Ky.

July 05--There was a comforting, old-fashioned feel to the first Community Band Concert held here on the Fourth of July.

Maybe it was the setting: under the trees on the Henderson Riverfront. Or the weather: perfect, not too hot, not too cold. Or maybe it was the hundreds of residents outfitted in patriotic garb, settled in lawn chairs bobbing their heads or tapping their toes to some familiar American tunes.

Whatever it was, the response from the audience and band members let band director Paul Metzger know that this initiative was a success and repeat performances would be welcome.

"For the very first time, I couldn't have scripted this better," he said.

The band, comprised of musicians ages 18 to 80, played for almost an hour Friday afternoon, leading off with pieces such as America's national anthem and our state song, "My Old Kentucky Home."

"(The musicians) are people who just want to share their passion (for music)" and talent, Metzger told the audience. "We wanted to put things on the program that appeal to everybody."

That's just what they did.

After the state and national patriotic lead-in, the band played big band pieces from the 1940s, including "In the Mood" which brought crowd enthusiasm in the form of smiles and comments such as "That's back in the day right there."

The musicians then moved on to a medley from the movie, "The Little Mermaid" and a Beatles classic "Let It Be" made popular in the '60s.

The Community Band then played pieces written by John Williams for movies such as Indiana Jones and Star Wars. The concert then capped off with more patriotic tributes such as "America the Beautiful" and "Stars and Stripes Forever."

"I'd like to make this a Fourth of July tradition," Metzger told the enthusiastic crowd. "Maybe if our vision comes true we will have more concerts than on July 4."

Metzger also took a moment to publicly thank the musicians and those who attended Friday's concert.

"For the last six weeks, every Thursday they've been faithful" to come to practice, he said. "I can't say enough about their efforts and how much they wanted this to succeed."

"Thank you for sharing my vision," he said to the band members.

Then turning to the audience, he said, "I'm so grateful for the audience that has supported us."

Following the concert and amid congratulations and thank-yous from concert attendees, Metzger said, "This is exactly what I'd hoped for. We had close to 400 people here ... I wanted a community band ... that old feeling ... music-in-the park."

"Community bands are having a resurgence ... I wanted one in Henderson."

Laura Thomas approached Metzger with these words: "I wanted to say thank you. This is a wonderful thing to do."

Band members Lora Wright, 34, Henderson, and Stephanie Gilbert, 33, Evansville, both said they hope to continue participating in the band.

"For me it was Mr. Metzger," Gilbert said. "He was my middle school band director and the fact that he brought a group back together, it meant a lot to me."

"I've missed the venue ... I've missed playing with other people," Wright said. "It was fun."


(c)2014 The Gleaner (Henderson, Ky.)

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Source: Gleaner, The (Henderson, KY)

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