“Stars & Stripes Forever,” and Ever

August 20, 2011

Almost every week this summer, Lin Whitehead, director of the Falmouth Town Band, has turned over her baton to a new guest conductor to lead the band in “The Stars & Stripes Forever.” It has been fun for the band, the audience, and, the guest conductors, some of whom have never conducted before, and some who have chosen very unlikely batons.

From my vantage point in the flute section, I have recorded these guest appearances.

Mildred Allen conducts the Falmouth Town Band.

On Thursday, July 28, 102-year-old Mildred Allen conducted. This was her third appearance as guest conductor; she began conducting when she was 100. Mildred is also a poet and keeps active by going to Town Band concerts and other local events.

On August 4, Elizabeth (Liz) McGonagle conducted, dressed appropriately in red, white, and blue, and using a blinking star, also in patriotic colors, to  lead the band. McGonagle has served as  assistant superintendent and director of curriculum and instruction of the Falmouth Public Schools. She recently resigned to take a job elsewhere.

There was no guest conductor on August 11, but a highlight of the concert was Tom Borning’s performance of “A Tribute to Harry James” on the trumpet. Borning is head of the music department in the Falmouth public schools.

On August 18, there were two guest conductors: Stephanie Weaver, director of the Cape Cod Conservatory, and George Scharr, director of the conservatory’s Falmouth campus and director of education for the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra. Here is Lin’s introduction of the duo:

and here is their performance. George is wearing a hockey uniform to honor Stephanie’s interest in hockey.

Next week, Thursday, August 25, may be the last concert of the summer, as students head back to college and summer residents leave. But there may be a performance the following week, September 1, if there are enough band members available. The band plays a mix of show tunes, movie themes, popular and rock-and-roll favorites, big band songs, marches, classical music, and more.

There are no auditions to join town band; there are people of all ages, from junior high students through people in their 90’s, from professional musicians to those just beginning to play, or starting again after putting their instruments aside for years. Rehearsals start in the spring, and concerts start again the week before the 4th of July.

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