ERMITAGE – Starting with the scales, the members of the Buhl Community Concert Band warmed up before embarking on a series of Christmas carols for their rehearsal on Monday night.
The group were training for their annual holiday concert, which will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the ballroom of the Avalon Golf and Country Club at Buhl Park in Hermitage. Free entry.
Hermitage band member Ron Heiman, who has performed with the band since its founding in 2006, said he was happy to have the opportunity to perform as a band again this year. The group’s holiday concert in 2020 has been canceled due to the pandemic.
“It’s very exciting,” Heiman said. “I love to play music and you get to know everyone over the years.”
The holiday concert is a tradition for the Buhl Community Concert Band, which held its first rehearsal in January 2006, and started with around 10 to 15 members, said director Judy Mindicino.
At the time, Mindicino and the late Fred Boles, retired conductor of Sharon High School, wanted to create a group for musicians from the Shenango Valley. Although Boles passed away in 2010, the group has grown to around 40 members from Mercer, Trumbull and Lawrence counties and other locations, Mindicino said.
Heiman said he heard about the band through Boles and wanted to get involved in music again, having previously played the clarinet while a student at the Farrell Area School District.
“At the time, I hadn’t touched my clarinet for 40 years,” Heiman said.
Since joining the Buhl group in 2006, Heiman has said he has been involved with other groups, including wind bands in Mercer and Lawrence counties.
Like Heiman, band member Rich Joseph grew up in Farrell but now lives in Hermitage. As a member of the popular local group “Menagerie” and other musical groups, Joseph was a founding member of the Buhl Community Concert Band and has stated that he enjoys the camaraderie while performing with other like-minded people.
“It’s fun playing music with other people and hearing all the different parts,” Joseph said.
Some members are high school age, while others are 90 years old. All of them share a common passion for music.
“We had a musician who used to say, ‘the spokesperson doesn’t know how old I am,’” she said.
Group membership is usually by word of mouth, with many musicians performing in other local bands, such as the Lawrence County Community Band and the Mercer Concert Band – which has its own holiday concert this Sunday.
Other members started out as spectators themselves, Mindicino said.
“People came to me afterwards and asked if they could play with us,” said Mindicino.
For many spectators, the holiday concert has become an annual tradition to enjoy music and meet old friends again. The Avalon Ballroom makes for an up-close experience for the audience, and Mindicino credited Avalon owner Ron Klingle with providing a venue for the group’s holiday concerts.
The band’s last holiday concert in 2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the band members were able to perform, while being socially estranged, in the Buhl Park summer concert series this year. while the restrictions were relaxed. Holiday concerts in previous years usually attracted a few hundred people.
The music for this year’s show will include a mix of songs such as “Sleigh Ride”, “A Rollicking Hanukkah” and “Christmas Time with Charlie Brown”, as well as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, narrated by Mimi Milheim, says Mindicino. .
“I try to choose music that is stimulating for the musicians and enjoyable for the audience,” she said.
Those who attend Wednesday’s concert can not only enjoy the music, but also feel the joy of giving – the group will be raising non-perishable food donations and cash for the Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County.
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