by MATTHEW NASH
From humble beginnings playing in picnic shelters to booming patriotic tunes for more than 1,000 people on the Fourth of July, the Sequim City Band finds itself deeply rooted going into its 20th season.
The 60-member band directed by Sanford Feibus plays Sunday, March 11, (see box) with a spirit of childhood.
Clarinetist Deena Patfield was given the opportunity to choose music that reminded her of growing up in England, such as “Peter and the Wolf,” which includes narration by Paul Martin, a seasoned local actor. Other selections include “The Wizard of Oz,” “Mary Poppins” and “What a Wonderful World.”
“Hopefully people will enjoy it,” Patfield said. “To me that’s what makes a good band is leaving a tune in someone’s head.”
Sequim trombonist Roger Merideth joined the band near its beginning. He began playing in Port Angeles but found Sequim to be another good opportunity to play.
“The music kept me playing more than anything else,” Merideth said.
The city band plays a variety of music — marches, Broadway, movie music, big band, swing, jazz, classics and patriotic tunes.
Merideth said he’s a little surprised by the band’s sustainability “because you wouldn’t expect musicians to stick together this long.”
Patsy Mattingley, flutist and fundraiser for the band, said going into its 20th year the group has grown from 20 to 60 regular players.
“The mission remains the same: to give good music to the community,” she said.
Tyler Benedict, a tuba player from Port Angeles, started a few months ago after being invited by members of the Olympic Express Big Band to play. He’s a featured soloist in this first performance.
He started on trumpet in middle school and said musical playing options are limit-ed once people graduate from high school or college.
“Some players have put down their instruments for 20 or 30 years,” he said. “It’s important to have a community band. It’s a great outlet.”
Patfield, 66, began playing the clarinet at 55 and joined the band four years ago.
“It offers a service,” she said, “Not everyone can afford going to a concert. This is free and great music always brings people together.”
Saxophonist Miles Vokurka is one of three players from Port Townsend. Vokurka, a retired band teacher, used to play in the city band in the late 1990s but put his horn away for 10 years. He started again a few years ago.
“This is a big thing in Sequim,” Vokurka said. “It’s come a long way. It’s just a fun, good group that continues to get better. The pieces they play are pretty interesting, too.”
Band concerts range from 350 people to 500 on nice weather days to 1,000 on the Fourth of July.
Mattingley said the biggest challenge is getting concerts ready in the summer because they only have four rehearsals between concerts.
“Our challenge is playing for the same people and keeping them entertained,” she said.
The band is without younger blood, too. For the first time, possibly ever, no high school students are playing in the band.
Mattingley said they offer scholarships, teachers offer extra credit to join and members from diverse musical backgrounds offer a lot of expertise.
Members range from college students to age 86.
Chuck Swisher founded the band, which operates as a nonprofit, in 1992. The organization built the James Center for Performing Arts in the Water Reuse Center Site in 2005, as the venue for monthly concerts on the third Sunday of each month from May to September. Each season begins and ends indoors in March and October.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.