This story appeared in the June 23, 2018 edition of the Cortland Standard. To become a subscriber, email us, or call us at (607) 756-5665. Back issues available by request.
Corey Earle was an unlikely member of a community band 23 years ago — he was a fourth grader in his first year playing the euphonium horn.
Yet he was welcomed in the Dryden Area Intergenerational Band and Chorus.
The group started by his trumpet-playing mother, Jody, remains open to anyone who wants to make music.
“It was special for me to be part of this group of adults that knew what they were doing,” Corey Earle said. “Now 23 years later, I’m now on the adult side. I get to be a mentor, to help the young folks who join the group now.”
People don’t have to live in Dryden to belong.
The band and chorus are gearing up for summer rehearsals and is open to newcomers.
Six rehearsals will be capped by concerts Aug. 3 and 5 at Dryden High School.
The chorus meets 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays at Dryden United Methodist Church, directed by Jennifer Rafferty.
The band meets 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays at the high school. The July 4 rehearsal will be July 5. Both start next week.
The conductor will be Robert Oldroyd.
“The only requirement of members is that you have a desire to make music with others,” said Sue Scheuring of Virgil, a choir member and newly elected president of the group’s board of directors.
“There are no auditions and no membership fees,” she said. “If you are an instrumentalist, we suggest that you have a minimum of two years experience on your instrument.”
Earle is the only person to be in the band every single year since it started, he said.
“Time flies. I know we recently celebrated the 20th in the last few years — in 2015,” he said. “This is our 23rd year.”
Earle’s father, Brian, is a tuba player and brother Evan, is a French horn player, also playing with Jody.
“It’s just a lot of fun. I really enjoy the people. You get together and make music every summer … It’s a low-level commitment: only six rehearsals. It’s not high pressure,” said Corey Earle.
There are 8 year olds to 80 year olds in the group.
“For the first time this past year, we put together a board of directors,” Earle said. “It’s wonderful to have that happen, get the group organized to make it sustainable.”
Scheuring said Jody Earle used to run the group after founding it.
“She is an amazing organizer and musician, but over the years … the group has gotten larger and she felt that she needed to step back and let others run the organization,” Scheuring said. “She is still a vital member of our board of directors. We have a core group of dedicated volunteers who organize music, communicate with venues, help with PR, answer emails, work on our website and fundraise. We all have our specialty and it’s amazing how it all comes together so well.”
Scheuring, a soprano, moved to the area eight years ago. She used to sing in choirs at her former home. She lost that connection here, till she found the Dryden Area Intergenerational Band & Chorus.
“There were no auditions,” she said. She was out of practice for more than a year, but her sister joined with her and she had a blast.
Brian Earle borrowed a tuba from Cornell University, where he taught, to play. Then he bought an old beat up tuba on eBay.
He’s able to sit next to his son. “I can say, ‘What’s five flats?’ He helps me as we go along.”
“There are a variety of skill levels. Some are a little off. What the heck, they are playing their heart out. You don’t worry about it,” said Brian Earle. “It’s amazing what comes together in six weeks.”
“I grew up in a family that liked to sing,” said Cathy Whalen of Freeville, an alto in the chorus for more than 20 years. “My sisters and I would take popular songs and make up harmonies. We’d sing by ear.”
The family, led by their accordion player dad, would sing doing chores, sing when traveling, sing at holidays.
“When I grew up and moved away, I missed that,” she said.
Her son, on occasion, plays in the band, Whalen said. “It was fun for my son and I, to have a concert and play together.”