BUCKHANNON — A new addition to the artistic tapestry of Buckhannon is taking shape, one note at a time – the Buckhannon Community Band.
According to BJ Hoffman, music teacher at Buckhannon Academy Elementary and one of its founders, the vision for the budding musical ensemble is clear.
“We want it to be a space where those who love to play symphonic music can continue to pursue their craft,” Hoffman said. “I think this will be a great addition to the already wonderful atmosphere of the arts that exists in Buckhannon and the surrounding communities.”
This vision isn’t just about creating music; it’s about fostering a sense of belonging, nurturing the love for music, and setting an example for the youth of the community, Hoffman explained.
“As the group grows and expands in both size and musicality, I would love to see this become something that further cultivates and nourishes the love for music that so many of us have here in our town,” he said. “I would especially like it to be an example to the youth of our community to see that the arts is something that you can pursue to do your whole life long — and that there are so many others who feel the same way.”
Interested in joining? The Buckhannon Community Band is having a start-up meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Colonial Arts Center, located at 48 E. Main St. in Buckhannon.
The journey to the creation of this musical haven began when Taylor High, band co-director at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, noticed the enthusiasm of her high school students for making music together. High explained that her dedication to her students’ musical aspirations led her to start brainstorming how to channel this enthusiasm.
“Last year, I had students at the high school who participated in the closest community band, which was in Shinnston,” High said. “They loved making music with people of all ages but hated the drive every week. A lot of them asked for me to help create one.”
As fate would have it, High’s idea found resonance in the hearts and heads of others. Jakob Spruce, former fine arts facilitator for Upshur County Schools; Anne Wilson, current director of the Colonial Arts Center; and Hoffman, shared her vision. Together, this team laid the foundation for becoming the Buckhannon Community Band.
Hoffman elaborated on his motivation for wanting to start the community band.
“A few people had come up to me after WAMSB (World Association of Marching and Show Bands) had ended, asking if there was an option for those who wanted to play in a symphonic band again,” he said. “With the grand opening of the Colonial Arts Center coming in October, I thought it would be a great addition to the programs that would be taking place there. I myself have been itching to play tuba in a group setting again!”
The Buckhannon Community Band is not a solo effort; it’s a testament to the power of community collaboration. Hoffman, High, and Colonial Arts Center staff have come together to make this dream a reality.
As for the type of music the band will focus on, High said, “For now, we are starting with a concert band. We are all new at this and are learning as we go.”
“As we learn and grow, we would love to add other ensembles: marching, jazz, etc.,” she added. “We want it to be a place that people don’t have to stress about – an easy-going environment where we gather together to play music.”