Who Are We?

I want to apologize to any of you who have been looking at this site each week to find a new installment , but things with other priorities have overcome my efforts. But here I am and I think today I will speak a little to the history of the NLR Community Band and where what I perceive to be the best course to follow as we move forward.
The band was formed after a NLR High School Band reunion and in its original state it was a first class adult ensemble. The late, great J. Raymond Brandon had visions of a band matching the stature of the Northshore Band in Chicago which at the time (early 80′s) was the hottest community band going. The sections of the NLR Band were filled with some of the finest musicians from all over the central Arkansas area and beyond. Many of the players were school band directors and former top players from the fine college bands of the state. But, as schedules of players became more and more crowded, band directors moved away from the center of the state to other programs the playing level of the ensemble began to falter a bit. In 1989 Mr. Brandon’s health took a turn downward and when his Dr. insisted he give up something from his strenuous lifestyle he chose to leave the band. He left the board of the band a list with ten names as possible successors and the search began. I was number ten on the list and when it came to that point I accepted the position of interim director until someone could be found. After the next concert the band asked me to remain and so I have since November of 1989. Another exodus of players with the formation of the LR Wind Symphony, which quickly became the more quality ensemble. But the NLRCCB played on and has not missed a season to this date. we have re-tooled our identity into a true “town band” as a place for those who want to play good music but without the pressures of an audition type situation. Many areas the size of Greater Little Rock have only on “avocational” band but we are blessed with the LRWS and the The Natural State Brass Band which are select groups, The UALR Community Orchestra and the UALR Wind Ensemble which uses some community players to fill out their sections and many small ensembles and church instrumental groups. Many of the NLRCCB players perform with these other groups as well, so the pool of players and the scheduling of concerts gets to be rather complicated. So where does that leave us?
I perceive our band in the same way that universities do with their non-audition symphonic or concert bands. We are a band where anyone is welcome to play. One of our principal players made a comment about a past situation by saying “That’s just who we are”, and that has stuck with me. We are a group of musicians who range from some that are just past the beginner stage to some of the finest players in our area and all levels in between. We have musician from school bands all the way to those in their 80′s and 90′s. We gather to play music and enjoy doing it, presenting concerts for an audience that likes old fashioned types of programs with marches, show-tunes, overtures, and featuring an occasional solo by one of our finer players. We most often leave the contemporary genre to our friends in the Wind Symphony, but slip a tune or two past our audience among some older arrangements from time to time. There’s a spot for a grin and giggle or two in every concert, as well as a moist eye or a swelling of pride as well. Our chief goal is to entertain, and if we also impress it’s a bonus for us. We aren’t the only show in town but we have fun just being “who we are”.

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