NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Calling all Drury band alumni, it's time to toot your horn, bang your drum, strum your guitar.
The Drury Alumni Concert will be held this weekend coinciding with the band's centennial.
"It's really great experience for students to play with alumni," Band Director Chris Caproni said. "They see the continuity of it. So many of these people are lifelong musicians or even if they're not lifelong musicians, music is still part of most of their lives."
James Morley Chambers was the founding director, conducting the band from 1923 to 1946.
The Alumni Concert that takes place every five years. Former director Carl Jenkins started the Alumni Concert in the 1970s. This year is the sixth iteration of the concert after a break during the pandemic.
"Carl's creation was not just about getting the alumni back for a fun weekend," Caproni said. "It was about making connections."
He said the band is one of the few classes where freshmen are being taught right alongside upperclassmen. He said this is not only an important learning experience, but allows for younger musicians to see what they can become.
He said alumni band is a generational extension of this.
"All of a sudden, you're an 18-year-old and you are sitting next to someone who's 36," he said."...Some are professional musicians, others play in community bands, and some just enjoy having music in their lives."
Caproni said he thinks it is important for students to see how their relationship with music can continue as they get older.
"Some alumni might not play clarinet, but they sing in the choir. They might not play the trumpet but now they play guitar," he said. "They might not be doing what they did in the marching band in high school but music is still a theme in their lives. And then we have others that are professional musicians."
This year, the concert will be a little different and will take place over two days.
On Friday, May 26, at 7 p.m. the current Drury Jazz/Rock Band will play at the Elks. At 8 p.m., the Alumni Rock Band will play.
"We have two groups performing that have rehearsed," he said. "And then after that, it's an open mic. Anyone that's a Drury alum can come and perform and sing or do whatever."
The main event is Saturday, May 27, when the full alumni band will play a selection of six songs featuring different conductors including Carl Jenkins and Roger LaRocca. The concert will be held in the Drury High School auditorium.
Variations on a Korean Folk Song
Overture for Winds with Carl Jenkins conducting
National Emblem March
"Sweet Georgia Brown," directed by Roger LaRocca
Brazilian Folk Song Suite
"If My Friends Could See Me Now," featuring the Alumni Band Front
Although there have been formal practice sessions, all alumni are welcome to play. Those interested can email Caproni at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those without instruments will be accommodated if possible.
Caproni said alumni can even show up that day.
"No one will be turned away," he said.
On Saturday, there will be a meet and greet starting at 12:45 p.m. at Drury. Rehearsal will follow from 1 to 5 p.m. with breaks in between. There will be a dinner at 5 with the concert starting at 7.
That night the jam session will pick back up at the Elks to close out the weekend. Alumni Jim Taft, Richard Boulger, and Paul DiLego will lead the jam session.
"Whatever happens, happens," Caproni said. "Whatever we didn't get accomplished Friday night we will figure out Saturday night."
Caproni said the weekend celebrates the Drury band. He attributed the program's success to its continuity noting that over 100 years the program has really only had three longtime directors: Chambers was there for 23 years, Jenkins took over in the '70s until his retirement in 2009 and Caproni has been there since.
"Part of the success of the program is 70 of the hundred years there have only been really three directors," he said. "There has been great continuity which you don't see in any programs. That is what makes a program successful."
He said many of the things Chambers started 100 years ago the band still does, including playing in the July 4 parade in Washington, D.C., and various parades throughout the county.
"We are doing all the same things and we'll continue to do all the same things," he said. "People are proud of the band, are proud to hear the band, and they sound great. So I think it is important to continue to play out in the community as they did in the 1920s.
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