Community Band Wows at This Year’s Christmas Concert

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Wendy Sack/CullmanSense
That’ll get your blood flowing! That was excellent!”
Joshua Agnew, the night’s emcee

CULLMAN – Small woodwind and brass ensembles played as the Cullman High School auditorium filled up on Monday night, Dec. 14 for the Cullman Community Band Christmas concert. Starting promptly at 7 p.m., the event drew an impressive crowd and delivered on its promise to entertain.

One of the soloists, also the night’s emcee, was St. Bernard Prep School’s Director of Fine Arts Joshua Agnew, who greeted the crowd and introduced the band and its conductor, Mr. Garry Taylor.

After the “The Star Spangled Banner,” the crowd was treated to a lively rendition of “Dashing through the Snow,” followed quickly by “Faeries,” the festive Manheim Steamroller arrangement of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies,” complete with plenty of cowbell.

Taylor, who was the band director at Cullman High School from 1984 – 2005, addressed the audience, setting up the next number and guest director Christopher Smith, director of bands at Cullman City Schools.

“Nothing makes a teacher, especially a former band director, prouder than having a former student go on to be successful in life. Especially as a band director,” he said.

After Smith conducted “Invercargill,” the band entertained with “A Yuletide Festival,” a fun and frolicsome medley of familiar Christmas classics, and “Ukrainian Bell Carol.”

Perhaps one of the best moments of the night was when the band launched into a collection of tunes from the band Chicago. With a real throwback feel and a couple of outstanding trumpet and trombone solos, the set was a groovy aside to the otherwise classic holiday concert.

Emcee Agnew agreed.

“That’ll get your blood flowing! That was excellent!” he said to the crowd and the band members alike.

Next up was “Secret Agent Santa,” another departure from the traditional, a “hilarious romp through the many secret agent clichés,” featuring a beautiful alto saxophone solo.

Guest Conductor Steve McLenden, Fairview High School band director from 1977 – 1988, took the stage after a heartfelt introduction from Taylor and led the band in the Sousa classic “The Washington Post March.”

The biggest applause of the night went to Agnew as he, accompanied by the band, performed a soaring rendition of “O Holy Night” that no doubt left everyone in the audience with chills as they gave a standing ovation.

Before closing out with the always fun “Sleigh Ride,” Taylor thanked all of the band’s supporters, including Smith, Cullman Middle School Band Director Linda Bean and city and school leaders. In particular, he singled out former Cullman Mayor Donald Green, who was in attendance.

Taylor said that when he approached city leaders about starting the band 14 years ago, then-mayor Green was “all about having a community band. I don’t think it would have happened without Dr. Green’s support,” he said warmly.

The Community Band is an all-volunteer group, whose ages range from 18 – 87. Its members are almost all alumni of high school bands from all around the Cullman area. The band’s season begins after Labor Day and ends in early June. Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings from 6:30 – 8 p.m. in the Cullman Middle School band room.

For more information, or to join the band, contact conductor Garry Taylor at 256-636-2754 or garry54@bellsouth.net. Visit facebook.com/CullmanCommunityBand to stay up-to-date on the band’s schedule.