July 29, 2013

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Penn Central Wind Band celebrates its 20th season with a free concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Bucknell University in Lewisburg.

William Kenny, the band's founder and conductor, says, "The concert has something for everyone including music by Sousa, and large scale classic band works by Percy Grainger, and Richard Wagner."

A highlight of the program will be the premiere of Patrick Long's newest composition, "The Bells of Dundrennan." Long is associate professor of music at Susquehanna and has been a long-time member of the band's percussion section.

The program also includes: "Valdres March" by Johannes Hanssen; "Lincolnshire Posy: by Percy Aldridge Grainger; "Blues for a Killed Kat" by Jack End; "Asphalt Cocktail" by John Mackey; "Suspiros de España" by Antonio Álvarez Alonso; "Hands Across the Sea" by John Philip Sousa; "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral" by Richard Wagner; and "Dance of the Jesters" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

"One of the great things about bands is that they are so often eager to perform new works rather than relying solely on repertoire from the past," said Kenny. "I like to take the best of the old, and combine that with the best of the new to make an exciting and interesting concert for the players and audience members alike."

The band gave its first concert in July of 1994. "It was a real challenge to get the group together back then," said Kenny. "I had been in the area only a few years, and I had to convince professional players to play for free. Fortunately, many were happy to go back to their band roots back then, and continue to enjoy doing so."

The first concert included 32 musicians in the band, compared to 50 players on the anniversary program. About a dozen players from the first concert continue to play in the band today. 

"What a thrill and honor it is to work with these fine players, and to present free concerts for the community," Kenny said. "I'm grateful to them, and to Bucknell for supporting this town-gown venture for the past 20 seasons."

Kenny is professor of music and chair of the department at Bucknell, where he has taught for the past 23 years.