Band season endsSoloists high point of 2013 performances
The Washington Municipal Band ended its 81st season on a high note to a park full of people who gathered to see the last concert of the season.
With many of the musicians heading back to college, the band fielded about 55 musicians, as opposed to the 80 that the season started with. They played many traditional songs before ending with the “Star Spangled Banner.”
“It’s been a great season – the players have been working so hard,” said director Tom McNamar. “We’re starting to lose our college players and high school, so it is a good time to end the season — stay strong to the end instead of kind of fizzle out.”
McNamar credits the soloists as providing some of the high points of the season. During the year, fans got to hear performances from people such as Alyssa Bennett and Sue Hagstrom. For the last performance of the season Christine Bellomy performed with the clarinet.
Bellomy, a music instructor from Iowa City who was invited to perform and is a longtime friend of McNamar, said she is impressed with the reception that music receives in Washington.
“The people obviously love working with Tom McNamar,” she said. “They just love their director and they take their parts very seriously.”
A librarian by day and musician at night, Bellomy spoke of the importance of having venues for musicians to perform.
“The support Washington shows the musical arts is the highlight of my career,” McNamar said. “It is so wonderful that here in downtown Washington we have quality musicians that enhance every aspect of their life. Washington is unlike any other place musically.”
McNamar said that most of the band members will go back to normal performing until the season rolls around next year. For some of the musicians, normal performances may include high school or college band concerts. For other members it can include Southeast Iowa Symphony, the Southeast Iowa Band, the Ottumwa Symphony, or the Muscatine Symphony.
One of the good things about the Washington Municipal Band, McNamar said, is that most of the musicians who performed this year will be back next year. He said for most, they start playing in high school and continue through adulthood.
“This season has really outdone my expectations,” McNamar said. “Last year was such a big year with it being the 80th anniversary of the band and we had a tremendous year. It is always a risk that the year after a big year that we are going to let down. It wasn’t like that. This year the musicians were solid all the way through — from first rehearsal to last concert. Musicianship was super high.”
With Washington’s 175th anniversary coming up next year, McNamar said that next year’s season is already in the works. He hopes to have Mike Jewell and the Just Us Girls troupe perform with the band. He said that a couple of soloists are already booked for the season. He promises a great season.