Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: First Company will be in good company with The Black Watch in Easton

January seems to be the month for pageantry ringing in, or rather, marching in the new year in the Lehigh Valley. With tunes ranging from The Beatles, to James Bond, to traditional marches and bagpipes will be 50 select members of Liberty High School's Grenadier Band, known as First Company, under the direction of Kevin Long, performing on stage Sunday at 3 p.m., at the State Theatre in Easton.

The smaller elite First Company, accompanied by some 20 student bagpipers from Bethlehem's Liberty High School, will perform a joint floor show as they open for the pageantry of the Pipes and Drums of The Black Watch 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, and The Band of Scots Guards. The Black Watch will feature bagpipes, traditional military marches, drum solos, Celtic dancing and beloved songs.

The main Grenadier Band, comprised of 265 students, has gained world recognition for opening for various sections of the Queen's Guard in England in past years, including the Coldstream Guards, the Irish Guards and the Black Watch Pipes during their tours in the United States.

If, at first glance, members of the Grenadier Band appear as 'the real thing,' it's because their marching uniforms have been modeled, by special permission, after the British Army's Coldstream Guards. Buttons are from England, while belts and bear skins are from the Guards. Grenadier volunteer seamstress, Ruth Zettlemoyer of Bethlehem, known as "Mrs. Z," has worked diligently to customize kilts for the students from patterns of the Guards, using Royal Stewart wool tartan shipped directly from Edinburgh, Scotland.

"We never had anybody fit the entire band and orchestra," MacGill said of Zettlemoyer, who's been diligently tailoring the students for more than two decades. "She's been a godsend for the band. Before her, Kevin and I would fit the kids for uniforms. She's enabled us to concentrate on other areas relating to the band," he added.

Long has been at Liberty High School since 1989, as assistant band director for the Grenadier Band and as director of First Company. He also serves as department chair of Liberty's fine and practical arts department. Long said he refers to his position with the band as "more of co-director," working closely with Gregory MacGill, director of the Grenadier Band and the school orchestra. MacGill has been at Liberty for 35 years and will be retiring in June. He is only the third director in the history of the high school, he said, since the early 1920s, to lead the Grenadiers, succeeding former directors Ronald Sherry and Joe Riccapito.

MacGill and Long agree that the support of the Bethlehem Area School District, Liberty's student body and the community have contributed to the lengthy success of the Grenadier Band and its popularity both nationally and internationally. Student bagpipers and pipe drummers continue to play across the Lehigh Valley for school events, funerals and memorials, parades, and corporate and community requests.

The Grenadier Band has performed numerous times in England and has maintained a strong relationship with British bands. They have performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. In 2011, they were the honor band in the Waikiki Holiday Parade, honoring veterans and commemorating the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They performed in the 2009 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena and just recently were confirmed as a returning band in the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1, 2014.

This past December, the Grenadier Band was voted for the third consecutive year as the region's "Best Marching Band" at the Lehigh Valley Music Awards held at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.

As for their upcoming performance on Sunday, Long said he would like audience members to leave the theater "wanting more. If they can say, 'Wow! This is just a high school band!' and that we put on a heck of a show, then we succeeded in being musically entertaining. We want people to come out and support us all. We'd like to see a packed house not only for us but for the other bands as well."

For those fans wanting more, the Grenadier Band will be performing a spring concert on March 22 and 23, at 8 p.m., in Liberty High School's Memorial Gym.

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It's the singularly sensational winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama and nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It's "A Chorus Line," and it's coming to the Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem on Saturday for one performance at 8 p.m.

Prior to the show, at 7 p.m., students from the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts will be in the lobby area performing show tunes ranging from the classics to the contemporary.

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Various disciplines of science through the visual arts will be explored in "Art & Science," beginning tonight and running through Feb. 22, at Penn State Berks, Freyberger Gallery at Perkins Student Center, in Spring Township.

Six members of the science division faculty were interviewed on video, and from those interviews, area artists were invited to select one faculty member whose research intrigued them or paralleled their own investigations. The artists were selected on their ability to interpret this material in an aesthetic way, using the information as a point of departure for their creative endeavors. Art work may illuminate, define or interpret the information provided.

Selected artists are: Lynn Millar of Fleetwood; Roy Kinzer, Rhea Banker, both of New York, NY; Ron DeLong of Slatington; Ann Lalik of Allentown; Sarah Edmonds of Kutztown; Yvonne and David Love of Philadelphia; Kristen Woodward of Reading, and M. Camille Romig of Huff's Church.

An opening reception and meet the artists and faculty will be held tonight from 6 to 8.

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