Band Bridges Gap of Generations

Return to Table of Contents

Eclectic Mix of Musicians Gather

By Susan Morse

Hampton Union, Tuesday, July 17, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

Tony Cyrus conducts his band during a rehearsal at Winnaucunnet High School on Monday. The community band plays at events throughout the summer. [Photo by Jackie RIcciardi]

HAMPTON -- The Greater Hampton Community Band bridges the generations as mothers, fathers and their children come together to play.

Director Tony Cyrus, music director at Winnacunnet High School, directs the 40-plus members of the summer band he started five years ago.

In the family affair, Tony's wife, Joanna, a professional violinist, plays trumpet. The couple's 12- and 15-year old sons also play. Tony's brother Ed comes up from Lowell, Mass., to join the band. There are other parent and children combinations, as well as brothers and sisters. Recent graduates play alongside those still in school.

"I like seeing a 12-year-old playing next to a 60-year-old," said Joanna Cyrus, "all just work as a team."

"They all interact really well," said Tony Cyrus.

Cyrus brought the idea of a community band to Hampton from his former home in Bangor, Maine. He liked the idea of keeping students playing outside of school.

By spring, he said, the seniors are playing their best. Then they graduate. The flute, the trombone, or trumpet, go into the closet.

"Some will never play again," he said. "I get a lot of satisfaction seeing kids who graduated continue to play."

Unlike school, where Cyrus must fulfill requirements and teach music theory, the summer band is all about play.

"They just play," he said, "play for fun."

If such fun fits the typical band camp geek profile, so be it.

Cyrus wears a T-shirt that proudly proclaims, "Leader of the Band Geeks."

The band practices at the high school over four Monday nights and performs three concerts. This is also unlike high school, in which the concerts are well-rehearsed.

This band is a summer blitzkrieg of seat-of-your-pants, bring your own chairs, stands and other equipment to an outdoor stage, set up, play, and go.

Even though membership requires no audition, it takes a certain level of musicianship to pull this off, Cyrus said.

Eighty percent of band members are veteran performers, returning each year. Some would like to keep the band going past the summer. Cyrus thinks it's a good idea, but he couldn't fill the role of band director after September, when teaching takes all of his attention.

He also gets to play the bassoon and bass trombone in the Air National Guard Band of the Northeast, traveling to concerts in New England and New York.

Joanna Cyrus comes from a family of five, all of whom either teach music, married a music teacher, or both.

The Greater Hampton Community Band will perform on Monday, July 30, in Hampton Falls; Monday, Aug. 6, at Marelli Park in Hampton; and Monday, Aug. 13, at the Tuck Museum, in Hampton.

The Tuck Museum gets the greatest turn-out, said Joanna Cyrus. There are often more than 100 people in the audience. She said she recognizes many from the other two concerts.

Audiences, she said, are "supportive and appreciative."

Band members are:

On flute: Skye DelViscio of Seabrook, Bonnie Demanche, Sarah Roesener of Seabrook, Shannon Tsaltas of Seabrook and Kali Zirkle of Hampton.

On oboe: Cassie Heinrich of Hampton.

On clarinet: Corrine Brown of Hampton, Jennifer Caesar of Hampton, Nalani Fujiwara of Ipswich, Mass., and Heather Macomber, Stephanie Norton and Alexis Raymond, all of Hampton.

On bass clarinet: Dan Argue of Hampton.

On bassoon: Stephanie Antlitz of Hampton.

On alto saxophone: Chris Antlitz of Hampton; Blake Brown, Marissa Kotkowski, Sara Moe, David Sheehy, and Laurel Weatherby, all of Hampton.

On tenor saxophone: Riley Bradshaw of Hampton, Mike Portrie of Hampton, Andrew Webster of Hampton Falls.

On baritone sax: Anthony Grant and Chris Larivee of Hampton.

On trumpet: Richard Ridolfo of Hampton Falls, Chris Cyrus, Joanna Cyrus, Ben Roesch and Craig Rubin, all of Hampton.

On French horn: Ed Cyrus of Lowell, Mass., Kendra Hackett of Hampton.

On trombone: Casey Bradshaw, Jonathan Cyrus, Kevin Hurd and Bryan Klapes, all of Hampton.

On baritone horn: Amy Carlino of North Hampton and Grant Kingsley of Hampton.

On tuba: Michael Phillips of Durham.

On bass guitar: Rachel Green of Hampton.

On bells: Mary Oliver of Hampton.

On percussion: Darren Fowler of Seabrook, Sam Harrod of Hampton, Jake Pongrace of North Hampton and Rick Saracy of Seabrook.