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    March. 10 - 17, 2005

    Making music and making friends

    Corvallis Community Band brings range of ages together for annual winter show

    The Entertainer

    Frank deLespinasse, 94, has been playing the euphonium since 1925. A few years ago, the retired naval engineer and band conductor from Woodburn decided to join his son, Paul, at a Corvallis Community Band rehearsal.

    He's been coming to concerts and rehearsals ever since.

    "It's just a fine band, and I have fun," he said. "They do high-level music, and the director (Steve Matthes) is very professional and efficient."

    Paul deLespinasse has 55 years of experience playing the clarinet. He enjoy how the band allows him to stay involved in music and spend more time with his father.

    On Sunday, March 19, the deLespinasses and about 63 other musicians from Corvallis and the surrounding area will perform "Music of the Russian Masters" for the Community Band's annual winter concert.

    The program features late-19th century and 20th century Russian composers. Repertoire includes "Procession of Nobles" by Nicholai Rimsky-Korsakov, "Waltz of the Flowers" and "1812 Overture" by Peter Tchaikovsky, "Russian Christmas Music" by Alfred Reed, "Vocalise" by Sergei Rachmaninoff and "A Tribute to Artie Shaw" arranged by James Christensen and featuring Matthes on clarinet solo.

    Artie Shaw may not sound Russian, but jazz clarinetist Shaw was born Artur Arshawsky, the son of Russian immigrants.

    Many of the pieces are originally for orchestra, and have been arranged for band performance.

    Founded in 1976, the Corvallis Community Band is a nonprofit organization whose motto is "Sharing the joy of music with our community."

    Band membership is free, and no auditions are required, though organizers ask that everyone play at the high school level or better.

    During the school year, the band practices every Tuesday evening from 7 to 8:45. During the summer, they practice in Central Park from 7 to 8, then give a concert.

    Members range from teenagers to retirees. At 94, Frank deLespinasse holds the honor of being the band's oldest participant.

    The group is sponsored by Corvallis Parks and Recreation, and Northwest Band Camps is sponsoring the winter concert.

    The Community Band Flute Choir will join the band in concert, providing intermission entertainment in the lobby.

    James Douglass, band member and director emeritus of OSU bands, will direct three dances from 20th-century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich's lighthearted "Jazz Suite No. 2."

    Band member and music educator Donna Wernz will direct "Comedians' Galop" by Dmitri Kabalevsky, featuring Beth Jordan on xylophone.

    Local harpist Laura Zaerr will join the band for "Waltz of the Flowers" from "The Nutcracker."

    David Wallace, retired band director from Western Oregon University, joined the Corvallis Community Band over 10 years ago.

    He's been playing the clarinet for 68 years, and was looking for a music outlet after leaving WOU.

    "You have this instrument that you've spent most of your life with, and it doesn't seem like a good idea to pack it away," he said.

    In addition to playing in this concert, Wallace will direct "Vocalise," which he said is a challenging piece to perform well.

    "All of these people making sounds together, creating something, bringing to life something that a composer or arranger made, is a sensation you can't get anywhere else," Wallace said.

    This concert is one of the band's more ambitious, in terms of programming, Wallace said. He thinks the audience will especially enjoy hearing familiar songs such as the "1812 Overture."

    Many people may recognize the piece from the National Symphony Orchestra's annual Fourth of July concert on the National Mall.

    But while the Washington, D.C., performance uses a cannon, the Corvallis Community Band will use a big bass drum for the thunderous sections.

    Clarinetist Sue Borden, retired OSU math instructor and Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences program director, is a founding member of the band. She keep coming back because she enjoy being part of "a collaborative experience where every person matters."

    "I like the intergenerational aspect of it. We've got people ranging from high school kids to nonagenarians. There's a nice social aspect to it. Everyone is good friends," Borden said.

    If You Go

    What: Corvallis Community Band Winter Concert

    When: 3 p.m. Sunday, March 19

    Where: OSU's LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St.

    Tickets: The concert is free. Complimentary tickets are available at Grass Roots Books & Music, Gracewinds Music, Rice's Pharmacy or at the door.

    Information: Contact Sue Borden at 752-6036, or visit the band's Web site at

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