To Assist and Honor Our Bravest

Free Concert on July 6th at the Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington, Vermont

My Uncle John, a native Vermonter from up near the Canadian border, was a resident of what we knew then as the Old Soldiers Home in Bennington, Vermont.  I was too naïve to understand why he was there or to be curious as to how he got there.  Unfortunately, I never visited him even though by the time he became a resident I had married into a family from Bennington and was aware of the Soldier’s Home.  I knew nothing of my uncle’s military career.  My father’s family was very private and it never came up.  How sad and how typical.
Now I live in Pittsfield, MA just down the road from Bennington and play in a wonderful community band…The Eagles.  (No, not that Eagles Band.)  One of our musicians not only comes from Bennington to be in the band but also works at what is now known as the Vermont Veteran’s Home.  It was through her that the Eagles Band was invited three years ago to play a concert for the veterans.  It has become an honor to do so.  We are no longer a marching band so our participation in the Memorial Day, 4th of July and Veteran’s Day parades in Pittsfield has come to an end.  Putting on a “sit-down” concert on the lawn of the Vermont Veteran’s Home fulfills that need to give back and to honor those who have fought to preserve our freedom and to entertain those who work so hard to take care of these precious and brave veterans.
The Vermont Veteran’s Home is a unique place with a long history. It was originally established in 1860 to help disabled veterans from the Civil War and continues today with new buildings and updated nursing and rehabilitation care.  It has a 5 Star rating from the Nursing Care Compare Awards and is equipped to provide extensive levels of care.
The grounds have always been a respite for Bennington residents and the traveling public.  The facility is located right next to Route 7, the main road through town.  There is a large lawn with shade trees and a treed park known as the Deer Park that houses fallow deer, a favorite place for children to experience the animals.  There is a lovely trout pond.  The memorial area with its monolithic white granite monuments is a beautiful and moving tribute to Vermont Medal of Honor winners, Gold Star Mothers, and Vermont Veterans.
The Vermont Veteran’s Home opens its grounds up to the public for concerts on the lawn and at the gazebo.  Come hear the Eagles Band from Pittsfield, MA play on Wednesday July 6th at 6:30pm.  It is free.  Bring a chair and enjoy a concert with tunes from Broadway to movies to marches and patriotic tunes.

To Band Stand or Not To Band Stand?

Eagles Band at the Common Tuesday June 21st at 7:00 pm.

For many years, the Eagles Band, the community band of Pittsfield, MA, lobbied for a band stand to be erected in Pittsfield.  We attended planning meetings, submitted ideas about what the band stand could look like and where it might be located.

Peoples Academy Band Stand

I even traveled to northern Vermont and took pictures of the band stand in my hometown, Morrisville, VT, (pictured on the left above) where I played in our summer band every year from seventh grade to graduation.  This particular band stand is located on the high school’s grounds across the girl’s field hockey field and just off the school’s parking lot.  A few townspeople would bring chairs and sit on the hockey field but most parked their cars facing the band stand and stayed in their cars with their windows open and tooted their horns and flashed their lights to indicate applause.

Chairs were stored under the elevated bandstand which was built atop a concrete foundation.  The playing floor was about 4 feet off the ground and accessed via two concrete sets of stairs on either side of the front of the “stage”.  It had lights and a roof; and with the audience in their cars and the band, most of it anyway, under cover, the concerts were rarely rained out. With its amazing acoustics, this band stand was touted as one of Vermont’s best. Seemed like a perfect design.

And, yet, no band stand was built in Pittsfield.

Then Deval Patrick was elected governor of Massachusetts. He had a vision designed to improve the quality of life in urban areas.  His focus was to redevelop urban parks within the 24 “gateway” cities in the state, Pittsfield being one of them.  With the help of a state grant, Pittsfield redesigned the Common located on First St. It is now a family friendly area right in the middle of downtown where kids can play basketball, enjoy the bubble park on a hot day, relax on the lawn, shop at the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and much more.  The best news for the Eagles Band is that they built a band stand and gave it a fancy name…the Performance Pavilion where Shakespeare in the Parks performs in July and early August and bands and groups of all sizes perform.  The pavilion is designed with a large stage, half brick walls and a roof so the sound projects nicely.  It’s location toward the back of the park which helps to dampen traffic noise from First St.

The Eagles Band will play its first concert of its 2016 Concert-in-the-Park series on Tuesday June 21st at 7:00 pm..  This is the first time the Eagles Band has played any of its summer concerts in the band stand (oops! Performance Pavilion) located in the southeast corner of the park.  The concert is free and the music will appeal to everyone.  The program includes Disney tunes, Broadway arrangements and a very exciting arrangement of “Star Wars”.

Tari Wheeler-Roosa – An Eagle with a Mission in the Community

Upcoming Benefit Concert

Tari Wheeler-Roosa, flautist with the Eagles Band in Pittsfield, MA, loves music and her community.  She is devoted to performing excellent music and donating it and her time to various causes. Her last public concert was to raise money for food banks in Berkshire County.  Now she is putting herself and her talent out there to help raise money for the beautiful newly acquired Baldwin Grand Piano – a 1990 walnut 6’3″grand – that her church, the United Congregational Church in Lee, MA. recently purchased.

 

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With Mother’s Day approaching, Tari is the epitome of a proud mom.  Joining her on Sunday May 15th is her eldest son, William Hack.  He will be playing the double bass to accompany his mom and Joshua Birns-Sprague as they present music by Mozart, Bolling, Eccles, Joplin and Imahori.

Tari is an accomplished flautist and music educator. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Lowell and a Master of Music in Music Ed. from the University of Colorado at Boulder with additional training in Early Childhood and Suzuki.She has taught music in Massachusetts, Vermont and Colorado.She also plays with the Eagles Band and in the Jovia Trio; a flute, violin and piano ensemble. Tari has been a Berkshire Music School faculty member since 1994.

The Best Cure for the “Winter-That-Wasn’t”

Steve Felix, Trumpet Soloist

The Eagles Band of Pittsfield, MA will present its annual free Spring Concert on Sunday April 24, 2016 at 3:00pm at the First United Methodist Church, 55 Fenn St., Pittsfield, MA.

Carl Jenkins, the Eagles Band conductor, talks about the challenging and interesting program he has chosen for this year’s Spring Concert.

“I always am challenged to find a program that balances selections that will excite and challenge the band and listeners.  After less than two years as the principal conductor, I can’t say that I’ve necessarily found the “perfect” program.  Knowing that we are performing at an indoor venue (F.U.M.C.) allows me the luxury of programming music that might not work outside at our summer series.  The concert we are performing on Sunday the 24th has a wide variety of styles and musical moods.


I have chosen two significant transcriptions for band, the first, a wild and exciting opener entitled “Festive Overture” by the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and the second, an intense, powerful “March” by Paul Hindemith from a larger work “Symphonic Metamorphosis”.  I constantly try to introduce the audience to marches by composers other than John Philip Sousa 🙂  None-the-less I have also programmed a lesser known Sousa March entitled “Manhattan Beach”.  This march was written by Sousa at a time when his band performed regularly at Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, New York.   This destination was soon to become known as Coney Island!


Our program also includes a wonderful arrangement of the American Folk Song “Shenandoah” and a series of four Gypsy Folk Dances, called “Puszta” by the Belgian composer Jan Van der Roost. These dances have been popular with all sorts of performing groups.   I have spoken with numerous conductors from high schools, colleges and festivals – all have enjoyed bringing these dances to their audiences.

It gives me a great deal of pleasure to be bringing a former student and doctoral student, from the prestigious Eastman School of Music, back to the Berkshires to play with the Eagles Band.  Steven Felix, a 2007 graduate of Drury High School, will be performing the “Slavonic Fantasy” by Carl Hohne.  This work is a real tour d’ force for the trumpet, demonstrating the many capabilities of the instrument in a multi-mood gypsy/Slavonic style concerto.  What a thrill to bring this piece to our audience and to demonstrate the skills of a local alumni.  To learn more about Mr. Felix go to http://www.scfelix.com/about.html


The real newcomer to the program is “It Finds an Echo in My Soul” by Andrew Boysen.  Mr. Boysen, a resident of Northampton, was commissioned by the Drury High School Band in 2009 to compose a work for concert band based on the well-known Shaker Hymn “How Can I Keep from Singing”.  The outcome was this substantial work that at first only gives hints of the actual hymn.  As the work unfolds the hymn becomes more fully realized.  Some unconventional techniques are used to heighten the tension – referring to several of the verses of the hymn.  I deeply hope that audience and performers alike will find new and old favorites in the mix of selections being performed on the 24th.  It’s been challenging yet fun to prepare these compositions for our upcoming concert.  The band has accepted the challenge and is ready for a wonderful program on the 24th.  We’re hoping to get a large turnout.  Enjoy!!”