Musicians carry on school's legacy

NEIGHBORS

May 14, 2002|By Nancy Gallant | Nancy Gallant,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

DURING THEIR annual spring trip, Arundel High School musicians toured downtown Boston. They saw the USS Constitution - "Old Ironsides" - and Boston Harbor. They even visited a mall.

Best of all, they returned last week having won first-place honors at the Heritage Festival of Boston, a music competition attended by more than 1,000 students from 12 high schools on the East Coast.

The Arundel High students won first-place awards in the orchestra, concert band, marching band, jazz ensemble and indoor color guard categories. The percussion ensemble finished second in its category. And Arundel High School musicians as a whole won the Spirit Award, given to the school whose units show the best conduct, discipline and spirit.

The students' performance was the result of months of practice, beginning with band camp in August and continuing through hours of practice, football game performances, competitions and concerts. It also reflects hundreds of hours of fund raising, from a 24-hour play-a-thon in February to pizza sales, candy sales, a spaghetti dinner and a "Rose Room" event that featured dinner and dancing.

But high school musical groups involve more than students. Parents are involved every step of the way, organizing band camps, sewing uniforms, cleaning instruments and moving them to performances.

Another person integral to Arundel's musical success is Phillip Butts, chairman of the school's music department and director of instrumental groups. For 33 years, Butts has overseen the band, orchestra and jazz groups, building a musical legacy that is respected around the country.

Mitch Whiteman, who played trombone at Arundel in the early 1970s and is the father of a current band member, calls Butts "very inspirational," adding, "If he thought you could do something, he would push you to do it."

Whiteman's years as a member of Arundel's band prepared him for a lifetime of music. He played in the Colts marching band. When he entered the Navy, he answered a call for experienced musicians and played at graduation ceremonies and parades, in addition to his work as a gas turbine engine technician.

A few years ago, when he retired from the Navy, Whiteman and his wife (an Arundel High alumna) had no problems deciding where to move. They returned to Gambrills, to family and to Arundel High School.

Their son, Joseph, had developed a love of music, playing various instruments at his school in Ohio and later at Arundel Middle School.

Last spring, Joseph and Mitch attended an orientation program for incoming freshmen. In the cafeteria, the walls were lined with tables describing student activities. Joseph headed straight for music and Mr. Butts. Mitch followed and waited while Butts and Joseph talked about music and the band.

Finally, Butts looked up and saw Mitch standing there. Even though they hadn't seen each other in more than 20 years, a light of recognition quickly dawned in Butts' eyes.

"Is this your son?" he asked Mitch. When Mitch nodded, Butts joked, "It's time to retire when I'm teaching the second generation."

Luckily for Joseph and Arundel, Butts was kidding. Mitch is in his second career in Arundel music. This time he is a band parent, setting up the pit crew during football games, driving the instrument truck to Boston and providing other support.

Music is an integral part of Joseph's high school experience. He plays baritone horn in the marching and concert bands and bass trombone in the orchestra and jazz bands.

Then there is 11-year-old Sarah Whiteman. Now a flute player in the fifth grade at Waugh Chapel Elementary, she is already involved with Arundel, carrying a banner during parades. She looks forward to expanding her musical skills in middle school and then becoming an Arundel High School musician.

Music lovers can enjoy the award-winning performances by the Gambrills school's musical groups at a spring concert at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Arundel High School auditorium.

Retirees' meeting

Crofton Area Retired Persons will meet at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at Seton Parish Center. After a short business meeting, David Hildebrand will present a program of Colonial music.

Dressed in 18th-century garb, Hildebrand will perform on a variety of instruments, such as the harpsichord, the Baroque guitar and the English flute.

This year, CARP is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Membership is open to retirees age 55 and older. Annual dues are $10. The monthly luncheon fee is $6.

Information: Patrick Rubilotta, 410-721-2143.

German-Americans

The Christian German American Women's Group will meet at noon Monday in the social hall of First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Odenton. This month's speaker will be Heidi Zech, whose topic will be "Thank God for Our Mother."

After a time of prayer and reflection, the group will be served a German lunch, followed by music and crafts. This month's meeting also will feature a plant exchange. Information: Irene Kucholik, 301-621-7862, or Karin Jackson, 301-855-6877.

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