So you hit middle school and want to join the band. Your parents roll their eyes knowing that now a flute, or a trumpet or—Heaven help us—a TUBA will join the pile of art supplies, chemistry sets, leotards, and cleats that were purchased when you wanted to be an artist, a chemist, a gymnast, or baseball player.
But there are artists, chemists, gymnasts and baseball players. And so there are lifelong instrumentalists. But instrumentalists, as in other occupations or activities, come in different flavors. You can paint if you don’t become another Picasso. You can play in adult sports leagues if you aren’t Johnny Bench. But what to do if you really enjoyed playing in the middle school and high school band, maybe the college band, and are now an accountant looking at reams of paper with numbers on them all day?
In 1976, in Lexington, Kentucky, Peter Martin and Dennis Van Horn organized a solution to that dilemma in the Lexington area by forming the Bluegrass Community Band which was renamed its present name, the Central Kentucky Concert Band, a couple of years after its founding to better reflect its mission.
Over the course of the years, many conductors, beginning with Peter Martin and Dennis Van Horn, have led the band. Past conductors also include James Curnow, John Anderson, Harry Clarke, Les Anderson, and Peter LaRue who was with the band an amazing 20 years—half the band’s existence—before passing the baton to Ben Hawkins who is serving his second term with the band.
The band has invited the previous conductors to attend the May 8 concert at 3 PM at the Lexington Opera House wherein the band will celebrate its 40th anniversary. During the celebration, the band will reprise some of the very first selections it played, Chorale and Shaker Dance by John Zdechlik, and American Folk Rhapsody No.1 by Clare Grundman. Those selections will be conducted by the same man who conducted them 40 years earlier—Peter Martin. The concert will also feature the world debut of A Bluegrass Overture commissioned in honor of the band’s 40th anniversary and composed by the renowned composer of band literature, British composer Philip Sparke.
Two band members will also be playing who played in the very first concert 40 years ago. John and Karen Cosby (contra alto clarinet which is a clarinet on steroids, and clarinet, respectively) are the two remaining active founding band members in the band. Their band roots are deep, having met in college band and marrying soon thereafter. The Cosby’s story is similar to other band members’ as they played in school and loved playing, but when school was over, vocations other than professional musician called. Both Cosbys are retired civil servants.
John Cosby cites the band’s first concert with the Great American Brass Band Festival in Danville in 2012 as a highlight of his time with the band when Doc Severinsen was a featured performer at the festival.
“A bonus,” says Cosby, “is having the opportunity to play at Danville again this year and be the only contra alto clarinet there!”
Cosby notes that music transcends place. “I have enjoyed having the opportunity to travel around the world and enjoy hearing the ‘world of music’ being performed in the language that we all understand: notes on the staff!”
While thinking back about his and his wife’s previous experiences with the band, Cosby feels optimistic about the band’s future.
“The Central Kentucky Concert Band will continue to provide the opportunity for musicians to perform and please the audience by recruiting talented players and playing quality music to include the ‘classics’ and ‘new’ musical literature.”
Admission to the concert is free.