'Seasoned' artists to perform at Encore Musicians Concert
Some things are known to improve with age. Wine becomes tastier, cheese becomes sharper and more tangy.
Perhaps too, seasoned musicians have something unique to offer in performance through the depth that experience can bring to both technique and aesthetics.
On Sunday, April 7, the Cumberland Valley School of Music, or CVSM, in Chambersburg, Pa., will feature more than 100 community musicians age 50 or older at the Encore Musicians Concert. The free event will begin at 2:30 p.m. at Chambersburg Area Middle School’s South Auditorium.
The concert will be the fourth that the school has organized featuring solely “mature” musicians, CVSM Executive Director Heather McEndree said. The upcoming event will include four groups — Penn National Harmony Singers, New Horizons String Orchestra, New Horizons Band and Freedom Valley Chorus.
McEndree previously served as program manager for the school.
“We had the New Horizons ensembles for our seasoned musicians. I was talking with that band director and we realized that we have a lot of performing groups in our community for people of a certain age — senior citizens,” she said. “We thought a concert to celebrate them would be fun.”
The school did three such concerts annually before deciding to present them every other year. The last was in 2017. Community response was robust, McEndree said.
“Many people were familiar with the different performing groups. Getting a chance to see them all in one place was something they quite enjoyed,” she said.
Some of the musicians overlap from one group to another, playing in the band or orchestra and also singing in a group.
“I think they just really love having the opportunity to play their instrument or to sing with their voice with a group of like-minded people. They just enjoy having a chance to perform for the public to let people see what they do and love,” McEndree said.
The oldest participant McEndree is aware of is Harold Angle, 95, who plays alto saxophone.
“He’s a World War II vet who received the French Legion of Honour last summer,” she said. “He plays beautifully on his original instrument. Actually, his sister played it first. It’s almost as old as he is.”
The New Horizons String Orchestra and the New Horizons Band are ensembles of CVSM that are open to members age 50 and older. They are supported through New Horizons International Music Association, known as NHIMA, which has more than 200 New Horizons groups world-wide with 9,000 member musicians age 50 or older.
“We have a mix of people that took school band or school orchestra when they were younger,” McEndree said. “They went to college or started their careers and stopped playing. Now they are retired and have time to do what they love to do.”
Other New Horizons members have never played instruments before but always wanted to learn. They studied later in life then joined the band or orchestra. Still others play a second or third instrument through New Horizons while playing their primary instrument in other groups.
Penn National Harmony Singers is a group of around 30 volunteers that mainly reaches out to assisted living communities in the Chambersburg area. The choir formed more than 20 years ago with the goal of “brightening the day of residents through music,” McEndree said.
The group presents an hour-long concert once or twice a month, as well as a Christmas concert at the New Guilford Brethren in Christ Church.
Freedom Valley Chorus specializes in a four-part cappella barbershop harmony. Four women began gathering to sing in 2004, and soon after decided to share their music with others. The group expanded to 31 members who travel throughout the south central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland regions.
“They are women who sing the harmonies of traditional barbershop,” McEndree said. “Soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Everything is keyed up a little, but the harmonies are the same.”
Freedom Valley Chorus is a member of Sweet Adelines International, an organization of female singers committed to advancing the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education and performance. Its members compete each year at Region 19 conventions in Ocean City, Md.
Musical stylings across the four groups at the Encore concert are “a little bit of everything,” McEndree said, including jazz, marches, classical, blues, folk and Americana. The finale of the show combines all four groups in a piece she described as “moving.”
“When you have those who are 50 and older performing music, they are doing it out of their interest, their joy of music,” McEndree said. “Kids enjoy music too, but sometimes parents are helping support them. When you have adults of this age doing this, they are truly investing their time, their energy, their enthusiasm. They love it.”
Top photo: Cumberland Valley School of Music’s Encore Musicians Concert features artists 50 years and older. (Submitted photo)