Advertisement

Archive for Sunday, April 29, 2012

The New Horizons Band plays on

New Horizons Band member John Bechen, right, warms up before a full band performance at Pioneer Ridge Retirement Community this past winter. The band rehearses each week and then performs at area retirement communities once a month.

New Horizons Band member John Bechen, right, warms up before a full band performance at Pioneer Ridge Retirement Community this past winter. The band rehearses each week and then performs at area retirement communities once a month.

April 29, 2012

Advertisement

In the chapel at Presbyterian Manor, an orchestral band is performing for an appreciative audience. Toes are tapping and heads are swaying to the upbeat arrangements.

Only in Lawrence: New Horizons Band

Listen to the band perform, meet the director and hear from longtime area jazz musician Clyde Bysom. Enlarge video

Their pieces range from rolling, fluid arrangements of “Home on the Range” to lively marching tunes to hometown favorite “I’m a Jayhawk.”

John Towner, center left, directs the New Horizons Band during a performance at Pioneer Ridge Retirement Community this past winter. The band rehearses weekly at the Douglas County Senior Center and usually performs concerts once a month at an area retirement center.

John Towner, center left, directs the New Horizons Band during a performance at Pioneer Ridge Retirement Community this past winter. The band rehearses weekly at the Douglas County Senior Center and usually performs concerts once a month at an area retirement center.

Looking sharp in crisp white shirts, the band members are senior citizens who are a part of the New Horizons Band. Band members range in age from 50s to 90s, and come from within and outside of Lawrence to participate. They come to attention at the baton of John Towner, who has directed the band for nine years.

“New Horizons bands started in the early 1990s,” explains Towner. “These are groups for senior citizens who just meet someplace in the community to play their instruments. They can be orchestral bands or choral bands, big or small.”

The Lawrence chapter was started 16 years ago, and Towner is the third director. With a career behind him, Towner got involved with the band through a friend, Clyde Bysom, the band’s oldest member at 94.

“I taught public school music for 38 years and then retired,” says Towner. “I could just be loafing around, but I enjoy being around people who do this.”

The group has played at Presbyterian Manor, Brandon Woods, Pioneer Ridge, Babcock Place and First United Methodist Church. They also played a few pieces at Free State High School’s winter concert. While the season runs from September to April, the group meets to practice every Friday afternoon at the Lawrence Senior Center, 745 Vt.

For some members, this group is just another musical outlet on top of a music profession. For others, it is a place for returning to an instrument long unplayed, perhaps even since high school.

The latter is the case for Kathleen Argersinger, who is one of the youngest in the group and only joined this year. She had played the flute from fifth grade through high school, and then picked it up again a couple of years ago. Wanting to improve her skills, she joined the New Horizons Band after reading about it in the newspaper.

“I love it,” Argersinger enthuses. “Everyone is so nice and genuine, and they care about each other. A lot of them are older than I am, and they are really role models for me. What’s amazing is that there are so many high quality musicians who’ve played their whole lives.”

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.