Greater Des Moines Community Band plays ‘spring’ concert

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Two Perry players, bassoonist Dawn Parker, left, and tubist Kari Allen, were among the 45 members of the Greater Des Moines Community Band to perform Sunday at the Perry Performing Arts Center.

The Perry Fine Arts Series presented the Greater Des Moines Community Band in a Sunday afternoon performance billed as a “spring concert,” but the weather in Perry was better suited to shivering one’s daffodils.

About 45 musicians from the all-volunteer band filled the stage of the Perry Performing Arts Center, including two players from Perry, tubist Kari Allen and bassoonist Dawn Parker. Allen has been with the Greater Des Moines Community Band about two years and Parker, a longtime regular in the Perry Community Band, about two months.



Some 75 seats were filled in the auditorium by Perry Fine Arts supporters.

Band Director Christa Miller conducted the band in a 90-minute concert that featured 13 songs plus a special “tubador” duet. Perry’s Allen and her platform mate and fellow tubist Keith Rittgers were twinned soloists on the tune commonly called, “In Heaven There Is No Beer.”

Selections ranged from folk song arrangements and medleys of popular standards to marches, including the “Armed Forces Salute.” The band’s technical virtuosity was apparent in works such as “Flutopia” and “Rhythm of the Winds” and the percussion-rich “Quad City Stomp”

The Greater Des Moines Community Band Associate Director Arlene Davis conducted the band in “Blue Tango,” and guest conductor and alto saxophone player Bob Bees conducted a medley of tunes from the Broadway classic, “West Side Story,” chosen in honor of the 110th anniversary of composer Leonard Bernstein’s birth.

Bees also soloed on the melody line to “The Twist” in a rock-and-roll medley salute to Dick Clark of “American Bandstand” and “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” fame.

The Greater Des Moines Community Band was established in October 1987 by Dr. Carroll Childs, who was then the supervisor of music for the Des Moines Public Schools. Today the band’s players — ranging in age from 16 to over 80 — perform on weekends in venues such as the Merle Hay Mall, First Christian Church and area retirement homes as well as performing in parades and at senior living centers and the Iowa State Fair.

Miller, also a member of the euphonium section, thanked Prairie Meadows for the 2017 Community Betterment Grant that made the band’s performances possible, and Cathy Clark of the Perry Fine Arts thanked the Perry Chamber of Commerce for its support of Sunday’s concert.

Next is the Perry Fine Arts concert series will be the July 4 Extravaganza and Ice Cream Social set for Wednesday, July 4 at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Perry. The Grand Avenue Ruckus, a Des Moines-based brass band featuring PHS instrumental music teacher Brad Sparks, will perform New Orleans-style jazz. Ice cream will be served following the performance.

Perry Fine Arts concerts are free, with donations accepted, and open to all. The Perry Performing Arts Center is handicapped accessible.

Perry Performing Arts Center Auditorium Manager Steve Cook, left, chats about acoustics with Greater Des Moines Community Band trombonist Carl Johnson prior to Sunday’s performance.

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