The Senseney Music Community Band is back after an 18-month hiatus – just in time to end the band’s 35th anniversary year with their traditional Christmas concerts.
The group’s last free concert during the holidays will be on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Andover.
For band founder and music director Bill Johnson, the band’s participation this year after a hiatus due to the pandemic was just as astonishing as when he first announced the band was forming in April 1987.
In either case, Johnson had expected about two dozen musicians to show up. At the band’s very first rehearsal in 1987, over 100 people showed up.
When rehearsals resumed in early November, 85 members showed up to prepare for the group’s three-concert Christmas season. They ranged from an eighth grader to an octogenarian, with a few new members and some returning after being on hiatus long before COVID.
“I was amazed,” Johnson said, as this November rehearsal gave him a feeling of déjà vu. He began the rehearsal by apologizing for choosing easy programming in anticipation of low participation from the musicians.
“I told them, ‘I didn’t expect you all to walk through the door,’ he said.
While the music might not be as difficult as it was in previous seasons, Johnson said the band still provided a fun and joyful concert of around 45 minutes to give musicians and audience members “a break from all the crowds. the wrong things “.
The music apparently hit its mark, as the band received a lot of positive feedback, including standing ovations at both concerts earlier this month. The concerts on December 2 and 5 drew more than 400 and 150 spectators, respectively, with the smaller number in the last concert due to playing at a smaller facility, Pleasant Valley Methodist Church. The group had opened in the much larger St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
The group traditionally performs two seasons of concerts, the first taking place from April to July and the second during the Christmas season. Rehearsals for the spring 2020 season were about to begin when COVID hit. The group subsequently canceled their Christmas 2020 and Spring 2021 seasons.
The timing of the band’s first season of the year is a starting point from the band debuting at the former Senseney Music location in the former Sunset Theater to Harry and Lulu. There was no heating or air conditioning where the group was practicing, which limited their rehearsal season. Johnson called back. When he rehearsed for his holiday concerts, radiators were used.
After becoming a recognized regional music store, Senseney Music moved to its more spacious location at 2300 E. Lincoln in 1996; the group exercises at the lower level. Senseney Music was founded in 1978 by Denny Senseney, a former music teacher in Wellington. At the time, Senseney tried to recruit Johnson, then a music teacher at Cheney, to join him in his music store business. Johnson initially refused, but seven years later, when ready for a career change, he joined the store, where he worked for the next 30 years.
The community group was formed in 1987 at the suggestion of the husband and wife of the store’s instrument repair team. Johnson, vice president of the store’s band and orchestra division, loved the idea of creating an outlet for amateur players in the community who might have played an instrument in school and wanted to pick it up or to pick it up. those who were looking for performance opportunities. . Senseney, the owner, quite liked the idea of joining the group himself as a tuba player.
The store has since changed owners, and although he has retired from the store, Johnson remains at the helm of the community group as Music Director. He is also joined by associate directors. Johnson is also the manager of two of the five semi-pro ensembles that are part of the Delano Chamber Players.
The sole purpose of the Senseney Music Community Band, Johnson said, is to provide a performance opportunity for amateur players. On average, each group season attracts around 70 to 75 members, with a core of around 50 to 60 participants in both seasons. Members range from blue collar workers to music teachers to stay-at-home moms to medical and engineering professionals.
There are no fees or auditions to register.
“When you come in we’ll ask you questions about your playing history and find a place for you to sit down,” Johnson said. If necessary, they can recommend a few lessons for those who need to hone their skills.
Johnson encourages anyone aged 16 or older who would like to join or learn more about the Senseney Music Community Band to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He also cautioned that music was not the only sound that would be heard during rehearsals.
“We are also a very social group. Sometimes it gets so loud because we’re busy visiting, ”Johnson said with a laugh.
Senseney Music Community Band Holiday Concert
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, December 12
Or: St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 123. N. Andover Road, Andover
Admission: To free