Ephrata Concert Band celebrating 40th anniversary

By on June 11, 2014

The Ephrata Concert Band will open its 40th anniversary “Concerts in the Park” season at 7:30 p.m. June 15 in the bandshell at Thomas Grater Community Park. The season will continue with concerts on the following seven Sunday evenings, performed by the band’s roster of talented musicians from throughout South-Central Pennsylvania. Admission is free.

The program for the June 15 concert will focus on music from a variety of genres that was originally composed for men’s social clubs. Ephrata Concert Band conductor Lincoln Fogelsanger selected the program and will conduct. As Fogelsanger explained, composers have often written music specifically for organizations such as the Freemasons, Shriners or Elks.

“Most of these groups don’t have songs like the military might have,” he said, “but the composers might have been active in those areas where they were based.”

Band director Lincoln Fogelsanger leads the Ephrata Concert Band, which will open its 40th season at  7:30 p.m. June 15 in the bandshell at Thomas Grater Community Park.

Band director Lincoln Fogelsanger leads the Ephrata Concert Band, which will open its 40th season at
7:30 p.m. June 15 in the bandshell at Thomas Grater Community Park.

One such composition was Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which included Masonic themes based on Mozart’s membership in the organization. As a Mason himself, Fogelsanger had a thorough understanding of this type of music that he could draw upon when selecting the program for Sunday’s concert.

Fogelsanger is the Ephrata Concert Band’s third conductor. The first was John Enck, who sought to bring a higher level of musicianship to the community than earlier attempts to form such a band had achieved. Enck founded the organization in 1974, not as a traditional community band composed of musicians from a confined geographic area, but as a collection of players from Ephrata and beyond who could master any type of composition during the single rehearsal that precedes each concert.

“It takes close to a professional level of proficiency to do what we do,” said Conductor Emeritus Carl Tobias, who directed the band from 1986 to 2009. “This isn’t baby music, it’s serious.”

Tobias will serve as guest conductor for the band’s June 22 concert. As such, he will select the music the band will perform that evening.

“Our concerts can include almost anything, from band marches to symphony excerpts, opera overtures, polkas, show tunes, waltzes, hymns, and novelty and big band pieces,” said Tobias. “We often have instrumental soloists, and occasionally we have a vocalist. We put together a program where there’s something for everyone to like.”

Tobias has seen the band grow from a group of 30 players to a pool of 85 musicians, about a third of whom play at each concert.

“Players sign up for when and what they can play,” said Tobias. “Then we try to come up with the right instrumentation so that we can have a concert.”

Tobias has also seen the band’s expenses grow over the years.

“John Enck used to go to local businesses and sell them advertising space on posters at the concerts,” he remembered. Businesses were enlisted to help offset the cost of promoting the concerts, the small honorarium that was paid to each player, and other technical and administrative expenses.

According to Ephrata Concert Band committee member Bob Larkins, the organization has decided to spotlight businesses who make substantial donations this year in the printed program for each concert. In addition to the financial support provided by local businesses and residents, the band receives a small cultural arts grant each year from the Ephrata Borough Council.

Larkins said that the committee is looking for singers to participate in this year’s concerts. Anyone interested should contact Tobias at 629-7314 or ultacar77@aol.com. Musicians who would like to audition to perform with the band can contact Fogelsanger at 532-5848 or fogelsanger@hotmail.com.

While the Ephrata Concert Band’s musicianship reflects John Enck’s vision of bringing professional-level performances to Ephrata, it also serves the traditional role of a community band.

“People can come together and get to know one another,” said Tobias. “I think it’s a worthwhile thing we’ve provided to the community, and that’s why I stay involved.”

For more information about the Ephrata Concert Band’s 40th anniversary season, contact Bob Larkins at 271-4215 or larkline@aol.com. Donations are welcome at the concerts; checks payable to the Ephrata Concert Band can be mailed to the band’s treasurer, Barb McMinn, 138 Broad Street, Akron, PA 17501.

In case of inclement weather, the Sunday night concerts are held at the Ephrata Recreation Center.

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