The Prince William Community Band (PWCB) holiday concert has inadvertently become a family tradition, one that I have been a part of since I was 10-years-old. The younger version of myself may have been more interested in the cookie plate but with age came wisdom. It became obvious this group of musicians were and continue to be a real slice of home-grown talent.
The winter chill hit my bare legs as my heels clicked against the concrete of the parking lot. Despite my last minute shuffle I was right on time. Twinkling oversized gifts and snowflakes set the tone for the afternoon. With 26 years of performances under PWCB’s belt it was going to be interesting to see what songs they would pull out of their repertoire.
Conductor Jack Tilbury took center stage as the warmth of the classic “We Need A Little Christmas” filled the room. “Christmas Festival” followed with an arrangement of numerous popular carols. These two songs back-to-back offered an appetizer to the select pieces to come.
“Toboggan Ride” made for a fun, chaotic piece that painted a picture in my mind of the snowy hill in Ohio my grandparents rode down when they were teens. My grandfather had no idea what was bound to happen when he rode in the front. The xylophone added a cartoony twist to the no brakes conclusion that most certainly included my grandfather covered in snow all those years ago.
Mannheim Steamroller’s “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” really appealed to my rock-n-roll sensibilities. The sound gradually got groovier and groovier until leaning heavy into the percussion to create a unique rock song. There were some enthusiastic woo-hoo’s from the crowd, I may have led the brigade, but we’ll never know that for certain.
The “Dunbar Sax Quartet” dazzled with their two jazzy tunes, “Funky Winter Wonderland” and “Everybody’s Waiting For The Man With The Bag.” I must say the latter was impressive, with bold pop inspired chemistry that slowly fell to a whisper.
Sammy Nestico’s “A Fireside Christmas” was next. The medley of classic carols romanced the rolodex to “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” My eyes began to swell with tears as my internal Bing Crosby crooned, “I’ll be home for Christmas/If only in my dreams.” The following number had encouraged the audience to sing-a-long which did a great job of turning my frown upside down.
The show’s finale came as no surprise, “We always end our show with “Sleigh Ride” …I think it’s like a felony if you don’t do that” Tilbury insisted. Although I wouldn’t dare arrest anyone over it, I couldn’t agree more. Ever since I was a kid one of my favorite musical moments happened with the clapper. Those two pieces of wood slamming against each other is the purest forms of percussion while adding to the storyline of the song. It makes it easy to imagine a beautiful Clydesdale horse coming to a halt. And the sleigh ride and the show has come to an end.
The holiday season evokes an array of emotions; from a child’s anticipation for Santa’s visit to folks trying their best to smile through hardships and loss. I can personally attest that a community event such as this is a comfort in either situation.
Be sure to visit their Facebook page for more information and stay up to date on upcoming concerts that occur throughout the year. You can also watch the recorded live stream of this performance on said page. Subscribe to their mailing list on their website.