Carbon County Band Festival celebrates 50th anniversary
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Denny Seiwell, founding drummer of Paul McCartney and Wings, serves as a guest soloist during the Carbon County Band Festival's 50th anniversary Thursday night.
In what was a half-century in the making, it proved to be a performance for the ages.
When all was said and done, the Carbon County Band Festival's 50th anniversary lived up to the hype and then some.
The much ballyhooed concert was performed before a jam-packed audience that gathered inside the Palmerton Area High School auditorium Thursday night.
Of course, it certainly didn't hurt that a world-renowned performer just so happened to grace the concert with his world-class drumming skills.
The program began with welcome remarks from Palmerton Area High School Principal Kathy Egan and Palmerton Area School District Superintendent Carol Boyce.
That was followed by a rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance, Star Spangled Banner, arranged by James Swearingen, and the Carbon County March Band, Raymond S. Becker, Jr.
Next, Lehighton Area High School band director Bryan Buffington conducted "Inferno," by Robert W. Smith, and "Among the Clouds," by Raymond S. Becker, Jr.
From there, Jim Thorpe High School band director Eric Flowers conducted "Americans We," by Henry Fillmore, edited by Frederick Fennell; and "Prime Time Toon Revue," arranged by Ted Ricketts.
Afterward, host director Thomas Heinick, Palmerton Area High School band director, acknowledged several former band directors in attendance.
Heinick recognized Joseph Plechavy, Tom Heinze and Henry Schwartz, of Palmerton; Floyd Frisbie, of Pleasant Valley; Karen Grebowsky, of Panther Valley; Joe Buglio and Robert Balliett of Lehighton.
Pleasant Valley High School band director James DeVivo then conducted "James Bond Suite," arranged by Frank Erickson, and "Pilatus: Mountain of Dragons," Steven Reineke.
After a brief intermission, Weatherly High School band director Shannon Shughart conducted "Aerodynamics" by David R. Gillingham, and "A Friend Remembered," by James Swearingen.
Next, Panther Valley High School band director Mark Christ conducted "Celebration and Song," by Robert Sheldon, and "Valley Forge March," by Karl L. King, arranged by James Swearingen.
Carbon County Commissioner Wayne Nothstein then made a special presentation to the Carbon County Band in the form of a resolution.
Nothstein said the resolution was adopted earlier Thursday by Carbon commissioners, and noted that Thursday, March 18 is recognized as Carbon County Band Day.
Nothstein offered words of encouragement to the band.
"It amazes me how in three short days, you can put together such a great program," Nothstein said. "Please, don't ever put your instruments down."
Perhaps one of the most sought after performances came in the form of Denny Seiwell, founding drummer of Paul McCartney and Wings, who served as a guest soloist for the festival.
A graduate of Lehighton High School, as well as a member of the first Carbon County Band in 1961, Seiwell sat with the band to perform the selection "Concerto for Drum Set," conducted by his brother, Darryl Seiwell, a former band director at Jim Thorpe High School for 35 years.
Darryl Seiwell said he and his brother haven't been on the same stage together since they performed in the Carbon County Band back in 1962.
The two brothers then shared a hug to a standing ovation.
The program ended after Heinick conducted "Pie Jesu," by Andrew Lloyd Webber, arranged by Anne McGinty, and "God of Our Fathers," by George Warren, arranged by Claude T. Smith.
The event continues at 7 p.m. tonight, and will culminate with a concert at 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $5 for adults, and $3 for students and senior citizens.