CKCB And Our Nation’s Veterans

US FlagThe CKCB regularly plays Bob Lowdon’s Armed Forces Salute which features The Caisson SongSemper ParatusThe Marines’ HymnThe U.S. Air Force, and Anchors Aweigh–the representative songs of the main branches of our military. As the band plays this, it usually invites veterans and members of each branch in the audience to stand when their service tune is played.

Several band members also stand during the selection.

At that moment perhaps there is a bit less performance going on in front of the audience for these members and perhaps a bit more connection with the audience than is possible with a different kind of selection. The shared aesthetic experience is accompanied by an element of shared experiences in service of our country.

And at its core, music is about sharing experiences, be they emotions, images, sounds, or life experiences.

How delighted and honored the band is to be performing for local veterans at the V.A. Medical Center at 2250 Leestown Road in Lexington on June 19 at 6:30 P.M. The veterans and the staff and volunteers at the center invite everyone to come join the CKCB at this free event on the stately grounds of the center.

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Posted by on June 5, 2016 in News


CKCB Hits The Great American Brass Band Festival!

The year was 1990, and that was the first year of the Great American Brass Band Festival. Started by George Foreman and Vince DiMartino, scenic Danville, with its history-steeped downtown and world-class Centre College, has hosted the festival all these many years.

The CKCB first participated in the festival in 2012, and this year marks its second invitation to the festival. The Great American Brass Band Festival is to a wind band what Valhalla is to a Viking!

Performances will be held in many locations, but CKCB will be on the Main Stage at Centre College at noon this Saturday, June 4. The Main Stage is bordered by West Walnut Street, West Main Street, and College Street. There is no charge for the concert.

The festival is way more than band concerts (which we love, of course). Food vendors will be pleased to ease hunger pangs, and kids will have plenty of activities to appeal to their creative sides. Check out a symposium, a gallery hop, a sophisticated tea, a balloon race, and…well you get the picture. There’ll be a lot going on!

Severinsen 2012 GABBF

Doc Severinsen was the featured performer in the 2012 GABBF. CKCB performed with him along with other area community bands in the festival finale.


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Posted by on June 1, 2016 in News


Get Ready For Our Summer Performances!

ckcb-2012-gabbf-smaller (1)So we concluded our blockbuster regular season with an exciting performance at the Lexington Opera House. But that doesn’t mean we’re done yet. We have four, yes, four more performances this summer! Check out our performance dates and venues below. As always, they’re free, and the public is invited and encouraged to attend! We’re so thankful for our hosts!

  • Saturday, June 4, Noon, “Great American Brass Band Festival” at Centre College in Danville (600 W Walnut St, Danville, KY 40422)
  • Sunday, June 19, 6:30 P.M., Leestown Rd. VA Hospital (2250 Leestown Rd. Lexington, KY 40511-1052)
  • Saturday, June 25, 7:30 P.M., UK Arboretum (500 Alumni Dr., Lexington, KY 40503)
  • Sunday, July 3, 7:00 P.M., Garden Club of Kentucky Picnic (616 Pleasant St, Paris, KY 40361)
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Posted by on May 17, 2016 in News


Thanks For A Lollapalooza Of A Season!

We concluded our regular season last Sunday with our world premiere of Sparke’s A Bluegrass Overture which was a blast! We’ve also had the privilege of including Adams’ Lollapalooza, Williams’ Symphonic Marches and Ives’ Country Band March in the mix among other fabulous selections. We have so enjoyed these band music literature masterpieces! What a wonderful season!

We are forever thankful for our sponsors, Friends of the Band, family members, and audience members all without whom we could not function! Thank you to our board members and other band members who selflessly assist when called upon without whom this operation would cease. Thank you to our friends at Transylvania University who give us a permanent home base and a lovely venue in which to perform that is staffed with gracious professionals; thank you to our friends at the Lexington Opera House and the Lexington Center who help us perform in that magnificent edifice; thank you to our conductor, Ben Hawkins, and associate conductor, Les Anderson, for bringing us challenging and rewarding music to play and for helping us to refine our musical aesthetic and the intellectual pursuit of music, and thank you to our fellow band members for their diligence in rehearsal, generosity of passing on musical knowledge, and for contributions toward musical and social community.

One last special note of thanks in our 40th year of making music goes to our founding conductors, Peter Martin and Dennis Van Horn, the conductors who have sustained our tradition, James Curnow, John Anderson, Les Anderson, Harry Clarke, and Pete LaRue, and our former members–those who are living and those who are no longer with us–as their contributions and spirit still resonate through the band’s consciousness.

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Posted by on May 12, 2016 in News


A Musical Milestone: Commissioning “A Bluegrass Overture”

In celebration of the Central Kentucky Concert Band’s 40th year of making music in the Central Kentucky region, band literature great, Philip Sparke, was commissioned to write a custom overture for the band which the CKCB will premiere in concert at 3 PM on May 8th at the Lexington Opera House. But how did such a thing come to pass?FullSizeRender (1)

It was the brainchild of music-literature guru and longtime CKCB clarinetist Gabriel J. Wooley. Peter LaRue, immediate past conductor, and Ben Hawkins, present conductor of the CKCB have both lauded Wooley’s knowledge of band literature and have from time to time followed his recommendations pertaining to a little-known musical “gem” that the band might play.

Wooley had been chomping at the bit to have a piece commissioned, and the band’s 40th anniversary celebration provided just the occasion to execute the plan.

The CKCB has performed British composer Philip Sparke’s works numerous times over the years and have been enjoyed by both the band members and the audiences.

A Yorkshire Overture was performed by the CKCB a few years back,” says Wooley, “and this tune was my inspiration to have Philip Sparke create a tune that could capture the essence of the CKCB and that would be written to take advantage of the depth in sound that the CKCB is able to produce as a band.”

“Philip Sparke, in my opinion, is one of the most creative composers of our time.”

“Part of Philip Sparke’s writing ability that I adore is the beautiful middle sections and his unique use of key signatures and chords throughout the band.”

“In turn, this would allow Mr. Sparke to produce great individual parts for each instrument and by the end create a challenging tune that all would enjoy playing and hearing.”

“The CKCB represents many strengths throughout its entire organization, and having those strengths opens the door to a composer like Philip Sparke to create music that requires intense and advanced musicianship. For a composer, writing an entire score of music is no easy task, as the composer must tailor the piece to what the group has to offer for the end result.”

Wooley understands the character of the band as a whole and through its member sections. He communicated these nuances to Mr. Sparke.

“I wanted to expose the great depth of sound that our brass section can produce during a performance. Mr. Sparke actually specialized in brass band writing and instrumentation, and this allowed him to write creative and challenging parts for this section. The use of supportive counter melodies, long tones, and chords, throughout the tune really highlights what a brass section can create to support the remaining players in the group.”

“The strength in the woodwind section of the CKCB is distinguished in itself, with its ability to play some real challenging passages. I wanted this section to compliment the great underlying theme of the brass section.”

“Because CKCB offers an incredible number of percussionists, I wanted Mr. Sparke to produce beats and sounds with the use of as many percussion and auxiliary percussion instruments as possible to support the piece.”

“In the end, my goal was to have a piece that all players involved would truly enjoy and remember for a lifetime!”

From start to finish, Wooley says that it took about two years to initiate and complete the project, with one of those years being taken up with the actual writing process.

Wooley admits, somewhat shyly, that he requested the piece be named A Bluegrass Overture which he considered to be a “bold move” on his part.

“What a great honor it has been for me to help produce A Bluegrass Overture with Philip Sparke. I hope to engage in future projects of this nature for special occasions that help celebrate the legacy that the Central Kentucky Concert Band has created.”

FullSizeRenderAt the end of the dance, however, the piper must be paid. Thrilled at the prospect of having a piece commissioned especially for the band, the board of the band started brainstorming fundraising ideas for the cost of the retainer. Each member of the band pays dues, but the dues do not cover the entire costs of each season. The band depends upon donations and other sources of income. Cue longtime band member and associate conductor Les Anderson and his wife Cathy, a member of the Lexington Singers and music enthusiast in her own right.

Anderson says, “I love playing the trombone and working with the band on a piece of music when I conduct. I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie of the band.” This led to his decision to sponsor the commissioning of the Sparke piece.

“This was a decision Cathy and I made together over the period of about a month. The CKCB has given us so much over the years through being a part of it. We decided that we wanted to give back to it in this special way. It gives us a special connection to the CKCB through this piece that will last long after we have gone.”

Anderson approves of the fruits of Wooley’s and Sparke’s labors. “It is a very special and unique piece. Philip Sparke obviously put a lot of thought and effort into it. The information that Gabriel gave him about the CKCB and our talents has been well-incorporated into the music and makes it truly unique. I think it will get a lot of use in the band world.”

Admission to the concert is free.

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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in News




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.

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Posted by on April 20, 2016 in News


And on Another Day in May…


In honor of the celebration of the Central Kentucky Concert Band’s 40th Anniversary, Philip Sparke has composed “A Bluegrass Overture.” The Central Kentucky Concert Band will present the world premiere of that piece in a free concert at 3 PM on May 8, 2016, at the historic Lexington Opera House. The band will also perform selections by Sammy Nestico, Morton Gould, Clare Grundman, and others.  This concert is sure to be a winner! Check back here and on our Facebook page, Central Kentucky Concert Band, for future updates!


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Posted by on April 12, 2016 in News