The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Fern Greenbank
LOG Editor 

Bands partner for concert


Courtesy Anchorage Community Band

The Anchorage Community band, comprised of approximately 50 members, will travel to Seward this month to partner with the Seward Community Band.

For the first time, the small but dedicated group of musicians that make up the Seward Community Band, is partnering with a larger band to offer a big band sound to Seward.

With the help of a Community Foundation outreach grant awarded to the Anchorage Community Band, 50 musicians and a conductor will travel to Seward for an afternoon concert on Sept. 13.

"When Neal [Anchorage conductor] approached me with the idea of bringing the two bands together, we were so excited," said Kim Kowalski-Rogers, who heads up the Seward Community Band."A lot of the music we play was written for big bands so we can't wait to hear that big sound."

The Seward Community Band has been together for about eight years, said Kowalski-Rogers. It's made up of a diverse group of people with varying degrees of experience.

"It's so great because nobody is pressured to be a professional," she said. "This is a wonderful group of people. We just have so much fun playing and playing should be fun."

During the summer months, the Seward band meets at Kowalski-Rogers' home. In the winter, they use the high school music room. The band offers a winter concert in January and a spring concert each year, so this is a special occasion offering a concert in September. This year, Mark Teckenbrock will be the band's conductor.

There are 14 members in the Seward band playing everything from tuba, saxophone, trombone, percussion, flute, clarinet to violin and trumpets. Members of the Anchorage band along with their conductor, Neal Hagland, have been visiting Seward for several weeks going over the music and making sure the tempo is right and the sounds will blend, said Kowalski-Rogers.

The bands will play everything from patriotic songs to marches, America the Beautiful to Amazing Grace, said Kowalski-Rogers. "Music really is a universal language and we've picked music that is happy, sad, upbeat and some that give you goose bumps," she said.

Neal Hagland, the Anchorage Community Band conductor, said he loves his job because he gets to watch regular folks, people who used to be avid musicians, dust off their instruments and rediscover their talent and passion.

Some of the band members used to play in high school and some used to be professionals, said Hagland.

"The hardest part is walking through the door for the first time," said Hagland. "There are no auditions. Anyone can join with any level of skill. They don't usually have a lot of confidence when they first get here but it doesn't take long for them to see they still have it."

The Anchorage Community Band, in its present form, has been in place since 1981. For 34 years Hagland has been its director while also teaching elementary school band.

"Sometimes the kids are just the same as the adults," said Hagland. "They just cut up and have a good time."

Recently, the Anchorage band received some grants to do outreach work. They "scratched their heads" a bit, trying to come up with a plan that would do the most good and be the best use of the funds. Hagland said they all agreed that maybe their band's longevity and size could inspire other community musicians to join their local community bands.

Hagland has known the Seward Community Band director, Kim Kowalski-Rogers for almost 20 years. In fact, they used to bowl together. He knew the Seward Community Band was small and thought a partnership concert might get Sewardites excited about the possibility of dusting off their instruments and getting back in the game.

"This is the first time we've gone outside to do a concert like this with another band," said Hagland. "We're excited. And we're excited about taking the train to Seward and seeing all the fall colors."

Hagland said there will be about 50 members taking the train and another 10 driving down to spend the weekend. He has been coming to Seward for a few weeks now rehearing with the band and he thinks the talent is outstanding.

The Seward concert will be held at the High School theater at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 13.


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