By Tova Fruchtman:CNJ staff writer
Gail Bond was pregnant when she was asked to join the Clovis Community Band. She waited until her daughter was born before she came to practice with her flute and a baby seat.
Twenty-four years later and Bond is still in the band, still playing the flute.
“I just love music,” she said.
This year marks the 25th year of the Clovis Community Band.
About 50 people gather every Monday night on the stage of Marshall Junior High School Auditorium and play — often the same few notes over and over again — to an audience of empty chairs.
They are practicing for their Nov. 4 performance — a tribute concert to John Phillip Sousa and his performance at the Lyceum Theater with his band on Nov. 14, 1928.
Conducting is Eastern New Mexico University band director Dustin Seifert, who like everyone else is a volunteer.
The program will consist of five marches written by “march king” John Phillip Sousa, two works form the operatic repertoire, and a solo work featuring Dr. John Kennedy, professor of trumpet at ENMU.
“The Sousa concert that the band has coming up is really a commemorative concert,” Norvil Howell, who founded the Clovis Community Band 25 years ago, said.
Though acclaimed as Clovis High School Band director and nine-year executive director of the New Mexico Music Educators Association, Howell plays his cornet (a trumpet) in the back row of the band during practice, barely visible from the audience.
He said he just tries to remain in the background.
In the foreground is Seifert, who is in his first year directing the band. He said working with the Clovis Community Band is great because he gets to work with people of all ages.
“It’s an opportunity for me to work with people who are still actively performing music,” he said.
The goal of music education is for people to continue to study music after high school and college, Seifert said. “Like golf — music is for life.”
Howell said his reason for founding the band was to give people in Clovis and surrounding areas the opportunity to play music outside of high school or college, but it’s also about having fun.
“We have a good time playing in the band. It’s gotta be fun or people wouldn’t want to do it,” he said.
A member of the community band for 11 years, Scott Kempf, 51, said he also plays in the band for fun.
“I’m certainly not one of the more accomplished one’s in the band, but I enjoy it,” Kepmf said.
Kepmf played the trumpet in the Clovis High School band, but quit because of braces before he gradated in 1970.
Kempf said he enjoys performing in the band’s yearly outdoor concert under the stars, the friendships he’s made with fellow musicians.
“Trumpet sections are known for being the craziest,” he joked.
As for the Sousa concert, Kempf said he is looking forward to it.
He’s not the only one.
“I am very proud to have the opportunity to lead the Clovis Community Band in this concert. Sousa is definitely one of my heroes,” Seifert said. “(Sousa’s) music was really the music of the day.”