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Enjoy performances and summer nights with Gilford Community Band

Gilford Community Band, comprised of residents of all ages from around the Lakes Region, entertains all summer long on Wednesday nights from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at the Week’s Bandstand on the Gilford Town Fields. Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
July 21, 2010
Warm weather has arrived, and the Gilford Community Band is in the midst of its summer concert series, celebrating 32 years of music ringing out across the fields of Gilford Village from June through August.

The band was first assembled in 1978 after Harry Graves of Gilford and Ray Ladieu from Laconia decided the Week's Bandstand, built on the Gilford Town Field in 1976, needed a band. Once they assembled local musicians, Ladieu became the first director of the Gilford Community Band, followed by Joseph DeRose, Robert Stevenson, James Chesebrough and John Beyrent over the years. When Beyrent retired after the 2006 season, his now daughter-in-law Lyvie Beyrent took the helm and is enjoying her fourth summer as the "leader of the band."

"It's a lot of fun to be the director, but it can also be a challenge with all the different levels of experience everyone has," Beyrent said.

The 50 or so members of the community band come from all walks of life. Some are seasonal residents and others may travel from towns around the Lakes Region to play with the group. Beyrent said currently the youngest player will be entering eighth grade in the fall and the oldest is in his 80s.

The concerts include selections that Beyrent said are also geared toward entertaining audiences of all ages. Music from Broadway shows like the latest hit, "Wicked," or movies such as "Perfect Storm" are blended with some Beatles tunes, classical pieces and familiar favorite marches to bring variety to each concert.

The outdoor venue makes it especially nice and this summer the weather has been nearly perfect for a few hours relaxing on the grassy lawn as the band plays. Beyrent said she has heard from people in the village who say the band sounds great from their homes, too.

"I enjoy being told people can hear us down the road and can sit out on their porches to listen," she said.

Rarely is a song place more than twice in a season, with the exception of a few classics like "Stars and Stripes." In making her decisions for which music people will hear, whether from the Town Fields or their front porch, Beyrent said she looks for songs that also feature specific sections of the band.

"I try to find things that let all the instruments shine, songs that give the clarinets a chance to stand out, then something for the drums or trumpets. They all want a chance to be heard so I also look for music that will do that."

Thea Aloise is a flute player who has been with the band for approximately 15 years. Aloise, who attended the Boston Conservatory of Music, said she had not played much since college until she moved to Gilford. She found the Moulton's Band and began playing with them until she found out about Gilford Community Band.

"I love it so that's where I play now. It's my hometown band and it's just been a great experience," Aloise said.

Sometimes the biggest challenge can be the weather and Aloise noted they have played in some tough conditions over the years. Another challenge is getting the music and learning it quickly for the next concert. She said one of the highlights of being in the band though is the chance to mentor new members who join, especially some of the younger high school players who have not had the years of experience performing for a crowd.

"We form a lot of friendships in the band and there's a lot of great teamwork that goes on, that's what I really like about it," said Aloise.

While she enjoys each weekly concert, she said Old Home Day seems to be everyone's favorite performance. An extra large audience, community pride and spirit always make it a fun evening. The band, having played together all summer long, is always at its best on that night, Aloise said.

Beyrent said the schedule sets Old Home Day as the final show of the summer since many members return to college or their winter homes. Those who are available year round reconvene in November and practice for a special holiday performance held at Gilford High School.

The public is invited to come to the Town Field on Wednesdays from 7:30-8:30 p.m. with a lawn chair or blanket to sprawl on and listen to the music of the Gilford Community Band. Each year the band has some new members and anyone interested in performing with the group is invited to drop in on one of their Tuesday night rehearsals or contact them through gilfordcommunityband.com.

Martin Lord Osman
Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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