Gloucester Daily Times : Published December 11, 2014
Rockport’s historic Legion Band prepares for holiday show
BY TAYLOR RAPALYEA
ROCKPORT — The Rockport Legion Band will reach back through its 82 years of bringing music to Cape Ann to perform its annual holiday concert this weekend.
The Band— formed in 1932— plans to perform seasonal selections this Sunday at 2 p.m. at the First Congregational Church at 12 School St. in Rockport. Admission is free— due in part to the support of the town and the rehearsal space provided by the Legion.
Jason Howard, who serves as the band’s co-director with Jim Davison, will conduct the first half of the performance which includes “dynamic holiday fanfare,” wintertime classics, and symphonic highlights from the Disney sensation, “Frozen.”
This medley from the 2013 Academy-Award winning Disney animated film includes “Frozen Heart,” “Do YouWant to Build a Snowman?” “For the First Time in Forever,” “Epilogue,” and “Let It Go,” according to the program.
The first half will close with “A Christmas Festival,” by Composer Leroy Anderson, and “Stars and stripes for Christmas,” by Composers John Philip Sousa and Robert Foster. The latter intertwines “Jingle Bells,” “Hallelujah Chorus,” “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” and “AngelsWe Have Heard on High,” with “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” to create a patriotic composition with a holiday flair.
The band has served its mission of encouraging ensemble playing by musicians of all ages and skill levels for nearly eight decades. A typical Sunday evening concert will have players ranging from beginning middle schoolers to seasoned octogenarians.
“Shortly after I started playing the cornet at age 7, my father brought me to my first band rehearsal,” recalled Howard. “I have always enjoyed playing in the band, it’s fun and you meet a lot of great people.”
He added that the concert features “a wonderful mix of numbers that will appeal to all members of the audience.”
“We also have a couple of special numbers for the children,” he hinted.
John Basset, 30-year member of the Band and alto horn player, describes the annual holiday concert as an intimate event.
“One of the nice things about playing in a band in a small place like this is seeing the faces of the people,” he said. “You get the sense that people are listening, and enjoying, and are happy about the music.”
Basset noted that their youngest player is around middle-school age, and their oldest is more than 80 years old. The band performs at local nursing homes about six times per year, in addition to their Summer Concert Series.
The second half will be conducted by Davison, and —- if the program is any indication — will be a roaring cascade of holiday favorites. These melodies take listeners through known carols and melodies, from “Joy to the World,” all the way to “Fantasia for Christmas,” during which the program recommends listeners hold onto their seats.
To band member Bob Heineman, joining the Legion Band meant reconnecting with an old passion.
“Like so many high school musicians I gave up playing my instrument (French horn) after graduation,” he wrote. “Many years later, at age 65, I decided it would be fun to study the oboe. The directors have been exceedingly encouraging and the camaraderie with my fellow band members brings much joy into my life. I encourage everyone who was once a player to come and join in the fun.”
More information about the concert and the band is available on the Rockport Legion Band website http://rockportlegionband. wordpress.com Taylor Rapalyea can be reached @ firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @taylorrapalyea.