Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: National convention in Allentown to host concert bands for public performances

Some major concerts will be happening in the Lehigh and Berks area in the coming weeks. One that will attract band enthusiasts from across the country is the 36th annual convention of The Association of Concert Bands in March in center city Allentown – and the performances are free and open to the public.

The concert series is being presented by The Association of Concert Bands in conjunction with its 2014 national convention, March 26-30, in the ballroom of the Holiday Inn Allentown, 904 Hamilton St. Nine community bands have been selected to perform as follows:

  • Wednesday, March 26, 7:30 p.m., The Montgomery County Concert Band; 8:30 p.m., The Allentown Band (the band's fourth performance at an ACB national convention)
  • Thursday, March 27, 7:30 p.m., The Marist College Community Wind Symphony, 8:30 p.m., The Ringgold Band
  • Friday, March 28, 7:30 p.m., The Chesapeake Silver Cornet Brass Band, 8:30 p.m., The City of Fairfax Band
  • Saturday, March 29, 2:30 p.m., The Buffalo Niagara Concert Band, 3:30 p.m., The South Jersey Area Wind Ensemble, 7 p.m., The Ridgewood Concert Band, 8 p.m., The 2014 ACB Convention Band, guest conductor Capt. Michelle A. Rakers, USMC, assistant conductor of "The President's Own" United States Marine Band

"We are very honored to have been invited to be part of this event," said Ronald Demkee, conductor of the Allentown Band. His segment of the band's March 26 concert will feature Stanley Drucker (left), clarinet, and Patricia Risley, mezzo-soprano, plus an arrangement by Steve Reisteter. Music will include selections by Strauss, Teike and Cailliet.

Risley, of Allentown, is a 1985 Parkland High School graduate who's internationally known among leading opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera and New York Philharmonic. The Grammy Award-nominated Drucker is retired after 60 years as New York Philharmonic Principal Clarinet. Reisteter, of Bethlehem, has been principal clarinet with the Allentown Band since 1984. His compositions and arrangements are played by school, collegiate, professional and military bands across the country. He is an elementary general music teacher in the Whitehall-Coplay School District.

For further info:

If you're psyched to hear the Lehigh Valley's community bands in action, here are some other events to catch. This Sunday's Festival of Bands at 2:30 p.m., at Dieruff High School auditorium will feature Allentown's four adult concert bands – Pioneer Band, Municipal Band, Marine Band and Allentown Band – in a combined concert of music of the big bands, jazz and swing. No tickets are required; a free-will offering will benefit ARC of Lehigh Valley.

A joint concert with the Nazareth Community Band, conductor Ralph Brodt III, and the Allentown Band will be held March 2, at 3 p.m., at Nazareth Area Middle School auditorium, 501 E. Center St., Nazareth. Tickets at $10 will be available at the door. The program, "Oldies and Goodies," is sponsored by the Nazareth Rotary Club with proceeds going to a charity of their choice.

Footnote: This is the year to watch for the release of "Volume 28" of the Allentown Band's nationally acclaimed "Our Band Heritage" series exclusively featuring the music of Leroy Anderson.

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Reading Symphony Orchestra principal trombonist, Bradley Ward, performs Italian composer/conductor Nino Rota's "Trombone Concerto" with the RSO on Saturday at 8 p.m., at the Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading. Also on the program will be Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings" and Beethoven's "Symphony No. 2." Conductor of the RSO is Andrew Constantine.

Ward won the highly coveted principal trombone position after multiple rounds of an international audition process. He also is part of the Excelsior Trombone Ensemble.

Footnote: Nino Rota's "Romeo and Juliet" was the featured music for 19-year-old Japanese 2014 Olympic Gold figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu during his free skate.

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Cedar Crest College in Allentown presents "Little Shop of Horrors" beginning tonight at 8, through Sunday, at the Samuels Theatre at the Tompkins College Center on campus. With book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, and music by Alan Menken, this was one of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows. Based on the film by Roger Corman, the story unfolds as a down-and-out skid row floral assistant becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant, "Audrey II," with a mysterious craving for fresh blood.

Stage and musical direction is by Bill Whitney; choreographer is Brenna Mateljan '13.

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Faculty guest artist Francine Roussel returns to the Muhlenberg College Allentown main stage for the first time since "Cabaret" in 2005, in the role of Belize in Moliere's 17th century comedy, "The Learned Ladies." The show opens tonight at 8, and runs through Sunday at the Dorothy Hess Baker Theatre in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance. The all-female cast is directed by James Peck; lighting designer is Tony Award-winning designer Rick Fisher ("Billy Elliot: The Musical").

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Donald Spieth conducts the Moravian College Community Orchestra on Sunday at 7 p.m., at Foy Hall on the main campus at Main and Church streets, with special guest artist Jesus Morales-Matos, cello soloist. The program includes selections by Elgar, Bernstein, Debussy and Saint-Saens.

Morales-Matos is cellist of the Dali String Quartet and professor of cello at Elite Strings Program in Lansdale.

For further info: 610-861-1650


Guest harpist Frances Duffy will perform Debussy's "Danses Sacree et Profane" with the string section of the Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra in a program titled "Invitation to the Dance" on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., at Christ Lutheran Church in Allentown. Music director is Allan Birney.

Selections for the evening will include work by Elgar, Zelenka, Hellendaal and Janacek. Featured Sinfonia instrumentalists include Nobuo Kitagawa, oboe, and Susan Shaw, bassoon.

Duffy is Principal Harp with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra and also performs with the harp trio Linaria Ensemble. Kitagawa is on the faculty of Lafayette College and performs with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem Festival Orchestra. Shaw, principal bassoonist of the Sinfonia, also performs with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra.

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The Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra, in conjunction with the Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre, presents the family-friendly puppet show, "Museum of Music," on Saturday at 10 a.m., at the Charles A. Brown Ice House, 56 River St., Sand Island, Bethlehem. The show exposes children to classical music with a live performance and a full cast of musical puppets. Artistic director is Mock Turtle's Doug Roysdon. A puppet workshop follows the performance. Cost is $5 for show; $7.50 for both show and workshop.

For further info: 610-867-8208


The children's show, "Fancy Nancy, The Musical," comes to Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown on Saturday with two shows – 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. -- presented by the Vital Theatre Company. Fancy Nancy and friends Bree, Rhonda, Wanda and Lionel prepare to perform their very first show, "Deep Sea Dances," but who will be cast and in what roles?

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