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McGill’s Community Band plays songs of the season

HOULTON, Maine — The holiday spirit was alive and well at the Houlton Community Arts Center Wednesday, Dec. 21, thanks to the soothing tunes of McGill’s Community Band.

Featuring musicians both young and young-at-heart, the roughly hour-long concert was a return for what the band hopes will become an annual tradition.

“Usually, once our summer concerts are finished, we take the fall and winter off and don’t start rehearsing again until the following spring,” band director Mike Hutchinson said. “We initially came up with the idea of doing a Christmas concert as a way for the group to get together and play a little bit during our off-season.”

The band held its first Christmas concert in December 2019, but has been unable to hold the event for the past two holiday seasons due to COVID-19. Hutchinson said the plan is to make the concert an annual event moving forward as a way to give back to the community that supports the group so well during the summer.

“This also gave us the opportunity to give back to the community during the holiday season,” he said. “The concert was free, and we did not collect donations as we usually do during the summer.”

Rehearsals began during the first week of December, but only two were needed for the musicians to get comfortable with the tunes. The group of about 30 musicians performed such timeless classics as “The Christmas Song,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” as well as the more contemporary song “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

“I felt that we played very well,” said Kevin Mania, the band’s manager and percussionist. “There were some great moments that reminded me of what a special gem the band is to our town.  I thought we also had a good-sized audience.  McGill’s is like a second family for us and it is great to see our group come together for more than one concert season in the summer.”

During its summer concert series, the band closes out its shows with “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” so in keeping with that tradition, the group performed “The Stars and Stripes of Christmas,” a song that combines elements of both the traditional patriotic song, with holiday snippets mixed in.

HOULTON, Maine — December 22, 2022 — Mike Hutchinson, conductor for McGill’s Community Band, speaks to the audience between songs Wednesday, Dec. 21, at the Houlton Community Arts Center. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

HOULTON, Maine — December 22, 2022 — Pam McGary plays the bells for McGill’s Community Band during its Christmas concert Wednesday, Dec. 21. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

HOULTON, Maine — December 22, 2022 — Summer Dulinsky (left) and Alayna Acott play the flute for McGill’s Community Band during the Dec. 21 Christmas concert. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

HOULTON, Maine — December 22, 2022 — McGill’s Community Band performed a selection of holiday tunes at the Houlton Community Arts Center Wednesday. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

HOULTON, Maine — December 22, 2022 — Judi Howard plays the trumpet during the McGill’s Community Band Christmas Concert Wednesday at the Houlton Community Arts Center. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

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