Audience members rarely get to perform in the concert they’re attending, but that’s the plan for Oak Grove’s 2023 Spring Band Concert on Sunday, April 30.
After the student groups perform, parents, grandparents, Oak Grove staff, siblings and alumni will join with students to create the Generations Band, playing “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters.
Why invite people to be part of a spontaneous band?
“I love that it shows that you can be anything—doctor, computer programmer, stay-at-home parent, engineer, college professor—and play an instrument,” said Oak Grove director of bands Renee O’Connor. Some of those who’ve signed up to participate claim not to have played their instruments in decades, she added.
This Oak Grove tradition started in 2015, and Missy Wenstrom, administrative assistant at the Elementary School, has brought her flute and played in it every year.
“It’s fun to take it out and remember how to play,” she said, adding that she was a dedicated flutist only from sixth through ninth grades, although she later got talked into playing contrabass clarinet. “The look of ‘I didn’t know you could play that!’ on the students’ faces is priceless.”
Part of what makes the Generations and similar bands possible is flexible or “flex-band” music, which has emerged over the past couple of decades, O’Connor said. In contrast to traditional arrangements, the parts in flexible music are not instrument-specific, so each part can be played by various instruments. For example, if a piece traditionally calls for a French horn, and the band has no French horn player, a different instrument can take that part.
“Flex-band expands the repertoire of what smaller bands can play,” she said.
Come and hear the 50 students who will be performing with Oak Grove’s Sixth Grade, Middle School and High School bands, and then join in the Generations Band. Email O’Connor [firstname.lastname@example.org] to get the music ahead of time—or, if you have a common instrument, just show up and play.
“Give it a shot—you’ll be fine,” she said.
Sunday, April 30, at the Scheels Center for the Performing Arts
6 pm—Recital Hour: Performances by students who are going to the state music contest or who have special pieces to share
6:30 pm—Performances by the Sixth Grade, Middle School and High School bands, followed by the Generations Band
IMAGE: OGHS Band members on their recent band tour in Colorado.