Okemos High School Hosts Annual Festival of Bands

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By Florian Cherdron and Adam Ilenich
Meridian Times staff writers

OKEMOS Eleven bands from across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula came together at Okemos Community High School to perform free concerts for the 17th Annual Red Cedar Festival of Community Bands.

The festival was developed by members of the the Meridian Community Band in 1996 and has been held every year since. Over the years, 45 bands have performed in the festival, giving the public 188 free concerts in 17 years.

Kyle Tooker, a 15-year-old freshman who plays tenor saxophone at Okemos High School, said he really enjoyed the concert, especially the German band that brought energy and fun to the show.

“Seeing all the people having so much fun, especially the German band, they were having so much fun with the costumes and they make music look cool,” Tooker said. “I want to stick with music seeing all these people, especially old people that have being doing it their whole lives and stuck with music having fun with this. It’s not something that I want to pursue as a career, but it’s definitely something that I want to keep up.”

Catherine McQuaid, a 14-year-old freshman at Okemos High School who plays flute and alto sax, attended the concert, especially to see the German band and the alphorn performance.

“They’re all wearing costumes, look for the guys in tights and hats! It was so cool!” said McQuaid. “I think it’s really cool to see other, more professional bands perform and it gives us an idea of what we could do in the future. It’s a different idea on what could be us in a while.”

Dr. Peggy DeMers, a renowned performer of the alphorn, played songs with several bands. DeMers also gave a clinic on the alphorn later in the day. The alphorn is a folk instrument consisting of no keys or valves, and the national folk instrument of Switzerland. It is a long tube about eight feet long played with the end resting on the ground. She has performed throughout the world in television commercials, documentary films and art festivals.

Mary-Beth Seaward, a 61-year-old trumpet player in the Flint Symphonic Wind Ensemble, loves participating in the festival and believes in the importance of lifelong musicianship.

“I’m here to show them (high school students)that just because they’re out of high school it doesn’t mean that they have to stop playing. Music is a lifelong thing. Music is something that everyone can enjoy and it’s a good way to bring people of all ages together,” said Seaward.

The festival has been going on for 17 years and is sure to continue, evidenced by the fact that patrons filled almost every seat in the Okemos auditorium on Saturday.

To watch more of the Meridian Community Band’s performance, click on the links below:

Suite from Hymn of the Highlands


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