Article About the Band to appear in National  New Horizons Band  Newsletter by Kathy Miller

Hagerstown NHB hits a Historic High Note

On Sunday, September 21, 2014, the Hagerstown NHB was featured at the Wings & Wheels Expo sponsored by the Hagerstown Aviation Museum, held at Hagerstown Regional Airport. The Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of aviation and aircraft made by Fairchild, a WW II aircraft manufacturer. We knew our repertoire included two historic numbers, but we learned from Tom Riford, a local volunteer announcer for the day’s concert, that they were especially significant to Hagerstown’s history.

Our country is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner in 2014, and we learned it was first published in book form in Hagerstown by the Gruber Printing Company. Gruber opened his publishing business in 1795 so it was a well-established firm when the Francis Scott Key poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” was included in a book of national patriotic songs in 1814. Key’s poem was set to music by his brother-in-law, Judge Joseph H. Nicholson, who adapted the words to an English composer’s song. The popular song later was renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and became our National Anthem when President Herbert Hoover signed the legislation into law on March 3, 1931.

The second historically significant piece we played was “Pegasus March” written by Dr. Peter Buys, a long-time director of the Hagerstown Municipal Band and a Sousa band member. He wrote “Pegasus March” in 1952 and dedicated it to Fairchild Aircraft, a Hagerstown company formed in 1925 as the Kreider-Reisner Flying Service. The company was renamed Fairchild in 1929 when Sherman Fairchild bought a controlling interest. The Company went on to become a major manufacturer of military aircraft during WW II and continued building military and civilian aircraft after the war. Pegasus, the Greek mythological, divine, winged stallion was a symbol of Fairchild being included in the company logo. The symbol and name are used by the Hagerstown Aviation Museum, too, in recognition of the large role Fairchild played in our country’s aviation history.

John Seburn, President of the Museum, and our director, Chris Bonebrake, diligently looked through the Peter Buys Collection in the archives of the local public library until they found a handwritten copy of “Pegasus March”. John Seburn made a high-resolution scan of the music for us to play at this concert which he believes is the first public performance of the march. Members of the Aviation Museum and Hagerstown Regional Airport leaders agreed after they heard us play “Pegasus March” that it will be their organizations’ theme march.

In addition to these two numbers of local historical significance, we played a range of patriotic music and marches including the “Colonel Bogey March”, “Fife and Drum Muster-1812”, “Hail Columbia”, “Salute to the Armed Forces”, “Aces High March”, “Red’s White and Blue March”, and “Miss Liberty”.


The Hagerstown NHB is directed by Chris W. Bonebrake


Submitted by Kathy Miller

Ensemble for seniors celebrates milestones

by Kate Coleman from Hagerstown Herald-Mail 6/1/2012

"We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing."

I doubt Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw was thinking about "playing" musical instruments when he said that, but if he'd been talking about New Horizons Band, he'd have been spot on.

New Horizons Band is a community musical ensemble for senior citizens. The concept began in 1991 at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., the brainchild of Roy Ernst. In the introduction to a book about the phenomenon, Ernst wrote that he believed "anyone can learn to play music at a level that will bring a sense of accomplishment and the ability to perform in a group."

Now, 21 years later, there are more than 8,500 members in more than 200 bands, orchestras and choruses in five countries in what has become the New Horizons International Music Association— the result of Ernst's "bright idea."

I borrow that phrase from Eve McGrory, charter member and membership coordinator for the New Horizons Band in Hagerstown. Eve, a retired second-grade teacher, fellow "Jersey girl" and elementary school volunteer tutor, plays clarinet with the local ensemble. She also serves on the international association's board of directors. 

Hagerstown New Horizons is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

I wrote a story about the band in January 1998. The program had begun the previous fall semester as a noncredit continuing education class for senior adults at then-Hagerstown Junior College's Valley Mall Center.

Kate Levy founded the New Horizons Band in Hagerstown with 15 players. The group is now 50 members strong — and I do mean strong.


The band, with a minimum age requirement of 50, played beautifully last year at the Hagerstown Community College memorial celebration of the life of my journalism professor and friend, Larry Sharpe. He had played the B-flat clarinet with the group.

In 1998, Kate Levy told me that senior adults are wonderful students. They give lots of feedback, both in terms of letting her know how much they enjoy the class as well as having interesting questions. She added that there are health benefits for senior adults who play music. Deep breathing, coordination, fine motor skills and learning to

Those things also apply to the fourth- and fifth-grade musicians I saw and heard perform at the recent spring concert at Fountaindale Elementary School for the Arts and Academic Excellence. The kids' focus and resultant pride shone on their young faces.

Pleasure also is evident among the New Horizons players.

"It's a wonderful thing," Eve told me.

New Horizons Band's 15th anniversary celebration will include a visit from organization founder Roy Ernst at the group's 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, June 15, rehearsal at the Hagerstown YMCA.

Kate Levy will travel from western New York to guest conduct and play with the band she founded at the Saturday, June 30, concert in the Peter Buys Bandshell in Hagerstown City Park. It will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" doesn't have to be on the program. New Horizons embodies it.