Sixteen Years of Song and Dance

Windham Community Band Celebrates Annual Evening of Music

March 14, 2014

by Jillian DiPersio, Windham High School Intern

Sixteen years ago the Windham Community Band breathed new life into the town, and its music has continued to enchant the community ever since.  The band is open to the public, offering free concerts throughout the summer season and giving local musicians of just about every age and skill level the opportunity to come together and make music.  On Saturday, March 29, they will put on their annual “Evening of Music” dinner and dance fundraiser at Castleton Banquet and Conference Center in Windham.

Perhaps most amazing about the ensemble is the dedicated group of musicians who come together each week at rehearsals to spread their passion.  The band was founded by Roanne Copley and Frank Rydstrom in 1997.  They were both non-musicians “but they thought the town should have a band, particularly for some of the students.  They found a conductor, Bruce Lee, who was also one of the cofounders of the group,” explained President of the Community Band’s Board of Directors, David Howard.  Howard saw an article in the town newspaper about the new band during the summer of 1997 and decided to join.

“I played clarinet starting in the fifth grade, picked up the flute and saxophone and the oboe later on when I was a teenager,” he said.  “I have degrees in musicology from Yale and Smith and I didn’t play for quite a long time while I was working.”  Howard picked up his instruments again in a community band in Virginia in 1992, and when he moved back to New Hampshire found a home in the Windham band.

Many of the band members have likewise dusted off their old instruments and found their way back to their passions by way of the Windham Community Band.  Donna Markham, treasurer for the Windham Community Band, was also drawn to the ensemble in 1997 after reading the article in the newspaper.  “Music had always been an important part of my life and it was something that was just starting in town.  I was kind of new to town so I thought I’d try and become a part of it.”  She used to play flute in high school and college, but did not have a music degree.  Instead she worked in marketing and business, running a small business for 15 years.  At the time the band started up “I had not played my instrument in 20 years.  My husband was very surprised that I played.”  Despite those long years of never touching her flute, Markham said that today, music is her passion.

Mike Carchia, vice president of the band’s board of directors and band manager, was yet a third musician drawn to the band by that very same article.  An electrical engineer, he had no background in music beyond lessons in college.  At the time the band came together he had been playing in other ensembles in Southern New Hampshire, but decided, “if they start up a band here I can quit all the other bands and just play in my home town.”  He says he took up music because “I don’t like watching TV.  I’m not kidding you, I don’t like staying home watching TV so I need something to do.”

Throughout the years the band has greeted members of just about any musical background, from middle school students to retirees in their eighties.  The common thread that holds these diverse individuals together is a passion and a lifelong love for music.  “I love this band,” said Markham.  “There’s such a variety of people, it’s always changing, and we’ve had some wonderful directors over the years that have offered challenges.”  Carchia commented that band rehearsals have a “relaxed atmosphere.  There’s camaraderie among the people and it’s relaxing and it’s fun … it’s like a family.”

For more information about the Community Band’s 16th Annual “Evening of Music” fundraiser, visit windhamcommunitybands.org.  Tickets are $50 each and a table of 10 is $475.  To buy tickets and reserve seats contact David Howard at 965-3842 or musicandcats@comcast.net.