Sequim City Band members rehearse in mid-July for the first time in 16 months. The band hosts “Together Again,” a free concert at the James Center for the Performing Arts, on Aug. 22. Photo by Richard Greenway

Sequim City Band members rehearse in mid-July for the first time in 16 months. The band hosts “Together Again,” a free concert at the James Center for the Performing Arts, on Aug. 22. Photo by Richard Greenway

Sequim City Band sets ‘Together Again’ concert

After more than 16 months away, it’s time to strike up the band once again.

The Sequim City Band hosts “Together Again” at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 22, at the James Center for the Performing Arts, 350 N. Blake Ave. — the first time its musicians have played as a collective since the band’s March 1, 2020 concert.

The concert is free. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair and/or blanket.

Led by conductor Tyler Benedict, the band will play homage to the unusual, COVID-driven circumstances of the past 17 months.

After the traditional opening of the “Star Spangled Banner” with vocalists Karla Messerschmidt-Morgan and Tom Reis, the band will perform composer Ludwig Goransson’s theme to “The Mandalorian,” a popular Disney+ show that many took to binge-watching during the past year-plus.

The band will dedicate Frank Tichelli’s “Amazing Grace,” an arrangement of a classic hymn, to workers throughout the county who kept vital services available during stay-at-home orders. Additionally, the group performs Harold Arlen’s hopeful “Over the Rainbow” from the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz.”

The band will also celebrate a classic John Williams 1976 composition, “Midway March,” commemorating the World War II Battle of Midway, a battle considered by many to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific.

The band has seen an influx of newcomers in the past 16-plus months including performers on flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba and percussion — something that will be obvious to concert attendees, band representatives say, when they hear its expanded, five-member tuba section.

Though the band did not host its traditional July 4 concert, representatives say the Sequim City Band will recognize past and present service members with the compilation of all of the armed forces — Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine, Merchant Marine, Navy — service songs with the “Armed Forces Salute.”

To cap the concert, the band performs “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa.

Debbi Soderstrom, who served as president for the Sequim City Band’s board during the COVID shutdown months, said the board will have a significant announcement at the Aug. 22 concert.

Long-awaited tunes

During the 16-month gap between concerts, Soderstrom, a soprano/alto saxophone player, joined other musicians in ensembles; other musicians didn’t play much, she said.

Some people have been practicing on their own (but) a lot of people have not picked up their horn,” she said. “It’s all over the map.

“I think the big frustration was not knowing when we might be able to come back as an entire group.”

Vicky Blakesley, with the band’s publicity committee, said she was concerned with what instrumentation the band would have for its first concert back.

“I recall several conversations over the past several months with Tyler (Benedict) regarding band membership. We knew that we were losing some band members because they’ve ‘aged out’ or moved out of the area. Going section by section, we identified which ones would definitely need new musicians.”

Out went the initiations,and by the first rehearsal on July 14 the James Center saw the majority of regular band members with at least a dozen new musicians, Soderstrom said.

“That was amazing. (At that rehearsal) we basically read through the music, to see where everybody was, to see where we was as a group. It was so exciting to play together and hear that full band sound.”

Blakesley said the band still has a couple of sections that could benefit with additional musicians — in particular the euphonium/baritone and percussion sections — but said she was “tickled pink” that outreach efforts yielded several talented musicians.

“At the core of the situation, we just want to provide live music to the residents of the Olympic Peninsula,” Blakesley said.

The Sequim City Band’s indoor concert series includes Oct. 17, Dec. 19 and March 13 dates. Show times are at 3 p.m. and are tentatively set to be at the Sequim High School auditorium, 601 N. Sequim Ave.

For more about the Sequim City Band, see sequimcityband.org or facebook.com/Sequim.City.Band.

Tyler Benedict, right leads the Sequim City Band in a July 14 rehearsal. Photo by Richard Greenway

Tyler Benedict, right leads the Sequim City Band in a July 14 rehearsal. Photo by Richard Greenway

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