Harold J. Crosby Community Band Camp ‘18: Another Success

Published in New Horizons International Music Association Newsletter

The calendar and the weather may have said it was still summer, with temperatures in the mid-80s, but the music in the air let the people of the little town of Dexter, Maine, know that autumn had arrived in style. The Harold J. Crosby Community Band Camp ‘18 gathered there September 14-16, 2018, to welcome in the season and to celebrate the composers and arrangers of Maine.

This year’s band camp continued its string of successes under the batons of Dr. Earl R. Lord, conductor of the Harold J. Crosby Community Band of Dexter, and guest conductor, Dr. Christian Wilhjelm, conductor and music director for the New Jersey Wind Symphony. The band, consisting of musicians from community bands across Maine and various other states, assembled at the Ridge View Community School in Dexter on Friday evening for an intense sight-reading of the music. This year the band faced some challenging music by Maine composer, and the camp’s namesake, Harold Josiah Crosby, and Heywood S. Jones, a midtwentieth century composer and arranger of Maine music.

At the end of the day, our chops tired and our fingers hurting, we were rewarded with a pizza party and social time to rekindle some old friendships and to make some new ones, sharing stories of our experiences with community bands and with music. As with all the meals at the Crosby Band Camp, the pizza was made available by businesses and organizations in the local community. The generous support of the community makes the band camp possible, as there are no costs to band campers for this experience.

Saturday morning, the real work began as we strove to perfect the music, and to enhance our musical abilities and experiences. Dr. Wilhjelm kept the tempos up to march speed and pushed us to master the intricacies of the music and its time period. His patience as a long-time music conductor, working with all levels of musicians from public schools to professional orchestras, showed as he guided us through the music, for we, too, had varied levels of experience and musicianship, and for some, the music was a struggle, while others barely struggled at all. Through his stories and helpful advice from marking accidentals to “cheating” on the 16th note runs, he pulled us together to perform the music as if we had been a long standing group with much more practice than the four short sessions of that weekend.

This year, the band had the privilege of having our guest conductor perform a French Horn solo with us, a first in the band camp’s history. An accomplished French Horn player, Dr. Wilhjelm performed the French Horn solo Le Basque (Marin Marais, 1656-1728) accompanied by the band. While he claimed he was a little rusty from not playing as much as he used to, we were all amazed and dazzled by his playing and his technique on this rather rapid piece. Bear in mind, though, that his background includes the Boston Symphony, the Boston Pops, and as the principal French Horn player with the Boston Ballet Orchestra. It was an honor for each of us to accompany him and to experience this level of music.

Band Camp ‘18 culminated Sunday afternoon with a free public concert held at the Ridge View Community School. By far, this was the most well-attended of Harold J. Crosby Community Band Camp concerts, a testament to the growing popularity of the band camp in Dexter and its surrounding communities. Dr. Wilhjelm and Dr. Lord shared conducting duties to showcase the band’s hard work and dedication to their talent and skill, coming together as musicians for an outstanding performance. The concert ended with a little fun with a Heywood S. Jones novelty piece called At the Minstrel Show, a change from the more serious marches and music selected for the concert program. This piece’s lightness allowed for some jokes and frivolity among the band members, the conductors, and the audience, a fitting end to another successful Harold J. Crosby Community Band Camp.

Of course, with autumn and winter fast approaching, we head back to our regular community bands, enriched by our experiences at Band Camp 2018. For the Harold J. Crosby Community Band of Dexter, that also includes looking ahead to Band Camp 2019, continuing to celebrate the composers and arrangers of Maine, continuing with and building on to the successes we have experienced this year. So mark your calendars tentatively for September 13 - 15, 2019, to join us in Dexter, Maine, for the Harold J. Crosby Community Band Camp ‘19; we look forward to you joining us, keeping the music of Maine alive and ushering in the season, the crisp air of fall, and the turning of the leaves to red and orange and gold.