There were a couple of reasons that the New Horizons Band of Hagerstown put on free concert Saturday evening at the City Park band shell.
Conductor Dave McCandless said the first was to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the band’s inception. The second was to honor the late Peter Buys, who conducted the Hagerstown Municipal Band from 1920 to 1959.
“He was very well-respected,” McCandless said of Buys. “He wrote arrangements for John Philip Sousa. He also played in Sousa’s band.”
Buys played E flat clarinet in Sousa’s band from 1912-18, according to information on the Hagerstown Municipal Band’s website. After Buys left the band, Sousa never used another E flat clarinet again.
"The instrument cannot be played in tune except by a great master, and there are no more Peter Buys,” Sousa said at the time.
McCandless said before the show that to honor Buys, the band intended to play two of his arrangements — “Constellation Overture” and “The Governor.”
The New Horizons Band is a network of bands across the world that are comprised of musicians older than 50. McCandless said the Hagerstown band has members ranging in age from 50 to 92.
About 100 people gathered on benches and lawn chairs in front of the band shell in temperatures that hovered in the high 80s. The night before, a severe storm that left thousands of local residents without power swept through the area.
Some of the people said they attended the show to hear good music, while others came because they were obligated.
“My wife plays the bassoon,” said Gene Mulder, 78, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va. “I see them every Friday.”
Mulder said whether it involves being a spectator or playing an instrument, the band gives seniors something to do.
Boonsboro residents Stan and Freda Thawley said they have followed the band for several years since they moved to the area from Montgomery County, Md.
“They do a good job. They’re a good group,” Stan Thawley said. “I give credit to people who don’t let their age slow them down.”