Could 14—OLD LYME — The City Band is again — once more.
The unique Previous Lyme City Band started in 1886, when musicians rehearsed in a room at Shore and Ferry roads and continued performing till 1910, the band’s web site says. It wasn’t till 1975 that Michele Smith Dickey, the granddaughter of one of many authentic members, determined to resurrect the band in preparation for the nation’s bicentennial celebration.
The second incarnation of the Previous Lyme City Band was in steady operation for greater than 45 years — till the coronavirus pandemic pressured a hiatus early final yr.
Now, with the band’s roughly 40 members resuming weekly rehearsals at Christ the King Church in Previous Lyme, issues look a bit totally different than they did earlier than.
Chairs and music stands at Monday night’s apply had been unfold out in a circle as a substitute of rows in order that the musicians would not must blow on the individual in entrance of them. Some wore face masks with slits to permit the mouthpieces via, and woodwind and brass devices sported bell covers to gradual the unfold of aerosols.
One other important change was the person standing on the heart of the circle: newly employed band director Wealthy Chiappetta. The retired highschool instructor changed band director Carolyn Whinnem after she determined to relocate to be nearer to household.
Chiappetta’s gestures had been large and flowing as he spoke above the music to explain the “legato” method of a piece known as “Yorkshire Ballad.” It’s a composition meant to evoke the inexperienced valleys of northern England, in keeping with composer James Barnes.
“Right here we go, good and simple,” Chiappetta informed the ensemble. “There’s nothing staccato on this piece.”
Chiappetta retired in 2017 from a 41-year profession as a public college band director. He taught for famend music packages at faculties together with Trumbull Excessive Faculty, East Lyme Excessive Faculty and Robert E. Fitch Excessive Faculty in Groton.
He describes neighborhood bands as an necessary alternative for musicians — akin to his former college students — as soon as they depart the highschool band room. “I actually imagine locally band as a result of I hate to see them quit taking part in once they get into their busy lives,” he stated.
The band rehearses for 2 hours as soon as per week year-round, Chiappetta stated. It performs in quite a few summer time concert events and at a number of vacation occasions.
“It is a lifelong exercise that I believe retains individuals sharp, as a result of it is a psychological factor, it is a bodily factor,” he stated. “The extra individuals that may mud off their devices and be a part of these native teams, the higher.”
And for some, it is a household factor.
Michele Smith Dickey has remained part of the band since she resurrected it within the ’70s. Now, her daughter, Lauren Girasoli, and son-in-law, Brian Girasoli, of Previous Lyme, have joined in.
Brian stated he began taking part in within the ensemble in 2010 on the urging of Travis and Sue Board, two pals from his marching band days on the College of Connecticut. He sometimes works as a duplicate editor and designs newspaper pages for The Day.
Regardless of not having picked up the euphonium — that is an instrument just like a baritone horn — within the 12 years since he’d departed UConn, Brian determined to present the neighborhood band a attempt.
“And I discovered I preferred it,” he stated. “Then I met Lauren, and yadda yadda yadda, right here we’re.”
Yadda, yadda yadda features a 2016 wedding ceremony and the start of daughter Cecilia, now 2 years previous.
He famous that Lauren, a percussionist, acquired began within the band when she was round 12 years previous.
“Now possibly our daughter will be capable of play when she’s a teen, too,” he stated.
His pals Travis and Sue Board of Deep River symbolize one other multigenerational side of the band. Members since 2009, they’re now joined by daughter Audrey, a tenth grader at Valley Regional Excessive Faculty.
Sue recalled Audrey coming residence from college again in fourth grade to announce she’d determined to play the clarinet, which the younger musician described herself as “oddly good at.” Final yr, she was chosen as the distinguished first chair within the clarinet part at college.
Travis stated his daughter is usually a little reluctant to come back to the Monday night time rehearsals when she already will get band time at college. However he stated there’s a variety of worth in studying from the opposite members.
The numerous hobbyists within the group work day jobs as academics, attorneys and dentists, amongst many others. College students and retirees fill out both finish of the large spectrum.
“We all know that taking part in with extra skilled musicians makes you a greater musician,” Travis stated.
Chiappetta stated the concept of the neighborhood band as a lifelong exercise holds true for him as a music director. Whereas he additionally works instead instructor for a choose group of band administrators in Waterford, Groton and Ledyard as wanted, he stated the Previous Lyme band provides him the chance to proceed to do what he loves frequently.
“While you’ve been a band director to your complete life after which all of the sudden it stops, you type of miss it,” he stated.
Chiappetta performs the drums. He’s additionally a brass participant who picks up the trumpet, trombone and baritone horn a minimum of as soon as per week to maintain his “chops in form,” he stated.
This yr’s schedule of concert events contains stops at Soundview Seashore in Previous Lyme, the Previous Saybrook City Inexperienced, the Grateful Arnold Home in Haddam and a vacation efficiency at The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Heart on Dec. 15.
Chiappetta stated audiences of all ages will discover one thing to love, from John Williams’ “Star Wars Theme” to Percy Grainger’s “Nation Gardens.”
“It is mainly a tune that everyone, as soon as they hear it, will be capable of whistle again,” he stated of the catchy Grainger piece.
Band librarian Ann Lander of Previous Lyme maintains the band’s catalogue of greater than 500 musical items. She was there for the band’s formation greater than 45 years in the past and by no means left.
In between maintaining the library and serving to to advertise the membership, Lander is a French horn participant. And, at this week’s Monday night rehearsal, the veteran of the neighborhood band might be seen on the bass drum in the course of the percussion-heavy “You are a Grand Previous Flag.”
Lander, a retired French instructor who spent the ultimate 22 years of her profession at Valley Regional Excessive Faculty, exemplifies the lifelong neighborhood band musician.
“In my youthful days after I was working, it was a break from instructing. You forgot about instructing for these two hours you had been right here rehearsing,” she stated. “And now in my retirement years, it is most likely the identical.”
Editor’s Notice: This model corrects the spelling of band director Wealthy Chiappetta’s final title.