Around The Sound Community Band

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Around The Sound Band: Heritage in Music

Community bands in the United States trace their lineage to the English brass bands of the early 19th century. It is unknown when the first brass band was founded in England, but two of the oldest are the Besses O' The Barn Brass Band and the Black Dyke Mills Brass Band. By 1860, there were more than 700 brass bands in England. Brass bands were quite common in the United States by the time of the Civil War. Although brass bands were an important part of life in nineteenth-century America, they were superseded by larger concert and marching bands in the early years of the 20th century. The historical brass band typically consisted of eleven cornets, one flugelhorn, three tenor horns, two baritones, two euphoniums, two tenor trombones, one bass trombone, four tubas, and three percussionists. The Around The Sound Band (ATSB) is a prime example of the extended heritage of the brass band. It not only includes the historically influenced lineup of trumpets, trombones, tubas, french horns, baritones, and percussion, but also includes clarinets, saxophones, oboes, bassoons, and flutes. The addition of the expressive wind instruments places the band squarely in the concert band milieu.

The genesis of ATSB was Shorecrest High School senior Kirstin Klepp who, as her senior project, started an adult beginning band. The original group was called The Second Chance Band and had its first concert on April 5, 1999 (see program). When the senior project was concluded, the band members continued on under the direction of John Law, a music teacher at Shorecrest High School (and Kirstin's high school mentor and elementary band teacher). ATSB was founded in late 1999 as Community Bands Northwest. John Law passed the baton to director Mike Irons, a middle school music teacher, late in 2002. Shorecrest High School science teacher, Vince Santo Pietro, was the band's coordinator from 1999 until spring of 2002 when a board of directors was formed. The organization reached a critical milestone in 2003 when it incorporated as a non-profit organization. In 2004, the name was officially changed to the Around The Sound Community Band.

In early 2008, the baton was passed to Michael Alstad, executive director of Music Center of the Northwest. Mr. Alstad served as director until Summer of 2018. Under his leadership, the band grew to 70 members, began giving formal concerts, and formed a partnership with Music Center of the Northwest. In 2013, ATSB became an international band and performed at the Ladner Band Festival in British Columbia, Canada. In 2015, the band hired Anita Kumar, a music doctoral student at University of Washington, as its first assistant director. Ms. Kumar served as assistant director until Summer 2018.

In the Fall of 2018, the directorship was passed to Tyson Sterne, band and orchestra teacher at McClure Middle School in Seattle. Mr. Sterne has also performed with several brass ensembles, as well as the 234th Army Reserve Band. In Summer of 2019, Mr. Sterne left the band, when his family relocated to another state.

In Spring of 2019, the band celebrated its 20th anniversary. To mark this event, we had a special concert including all our directors past and present (see program). This concert can be viewed on our YouTube page.

In late summer of 2019, Lauren Hepburn became our 6th director. Ms Hepburn is a Pacific Northwest Native with experience in many performing groups and ensembles. Ms. Hepburn did her graduate work in music education at the University of Washington. She has also taught middle school band, orchestra and choir.

March of 2020 brought about an immediate end to all in person band rehearsals and concerts due to the COVID-19 virus. We managed to stay together with email activities and Zoom meetings. We also experimented with online performance platforms. But by the end of 2020, it became clear that we could no longer financially sustain the organization at its pre-pandemic levels. We made the difficult decision to go without a director for the duration of the pandemic. In the meantime, past director Tyson Sterne was enlisted to help us with virtual activities from afar, and until we could again gather together as a group. We used Zoom to meet and the Upbeat platform to record music, which Tyson Sterne assembled into a group performance. We produced our first virtual concert in Spring 2021, titled BANDEMIC (see program). This concert can be viewed on our YouTube page.

Since 1999, the ATSB has maintained a stable core of players. Staying true to our beginnings, we continue to welcome musicians at any level of playing ability. The group practices once a week to hone its skills and prepare for concerts. ATSB performs at public concerts, community events, band festivals, and other venues. The ATSB performs a wide range of concert band, marching, pop, show themes, and other types of music.

Former Concert Programs:

Virtual Concert Program May 2021  
Concert Program December 2019   20th Anniversary Program June 2019
Concert Program March 2019   Concert Program December 2018
Concert Programs 2015 - June 2018   Playlists 2005 - 2007
Concert Programs 2011 - 2014   Playlists 2001 - 2004
Concert Programs 2006 - 2010   First Concert Program - April 5, 1999

Note: Formal concerts began in 2008. Previous to 2008, the band was small and mostly played in the community and at senior living centers. Formal paper programs began in 2006. Before that, there were playlists that were sometimes handed out when we would perform. There were no written playlists earlier that 2001, except for the very first concert. We always welcome historic documents that you would wish to share with us.

Many of our concerts can be viewed on our YouTube page.



Thanks to historian and former ATSB Tuba player Dale Stirling for his early contributions to this article.

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