THE MUSICIANS OF Encore Community Music Association are young and old, playing side by side to share their passion for interpreting classical music.
Created in 1995 to enrich the musical experience of string players, the organization has expanded to be a string orchestra, symphony orchestra and - starting last fall - a symphonic band.
Auditions to join the association will be held Sept. 9.
"We saw how the number of wind players in the orchestra were almost overbalancing the strings, and so we decided we could have a band. We started primarily with kids and some adults, and it was a good experience for everyone," said band director Les Douglas.
Douglas, who plays clarinet and saxophone, was band director at North Carroll High School from 1980 to 1988 and Westminster High from 1989 to 1996. He now works in the central office of Howard County public schools.
"I was playing in the Columbia Symphony when Kay Tippett called to ask if I'd do the band. I was very excited about it, because I really enjoy working with kids and wanted to get back into rehearsing with them," Douglas said.
Community bands are not new to Carroll, where town bands such as those in Westminster and Alesia have been popular for more than a century.
Town bands typically appear at strawberry festivals, fire carnivals and bandstands.
The Encore community band offers a different experience, that of concert performances of symphonic music that might include operatic transcriptions or renowned English band composers.
"We're not the town band kind of sound with the old-fashioned playing on Sunday afternoon or in parades," said Douglas.
"We select pieces of classical band literature. We're meant to be educational, as an enrichment program for kids, another outlet beside middle or high school band."
Among the band's 60 members are teachers from Frederick and Baltimore counties, parents of children in either the band or orchestra, and children from private schools or in homeschool programs.
"The adults who play find it fulfilling and it helps the kids because it's a role model for how to sound. It was such a motivated group last year. It was a joy to work with them," Douglas said.
The string orchestra is conducted by Tippett and the symphony orchestra is conducted by Elisa Koehler.
Full biographies of the conductors are available on the Encore Community Music Association Web site. Auditions, which Douglas said are "kid-friendly," for the band and orchestra will be held from 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Sept. 9 at West Middle School.
Instrumentalists for band or orchestra must have two years' experience and be able to perform prepared and sight-read pieces. Scales required include all major scales through three sharps and three flats (for strings, only C, F, G and D) and the chromatic scale.
A $100 registration fee is charged per semester.
Concerts take place at North Carroll High School, and are slated for Dec. 8 and May 4.
Ensemble groups also perform in the community.
The Encore Music Association offers a statewide Young Artist Competition and sponsors two summer music camps.
A new early children's school, Footprints Preschool, will open Sept. 3 at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1374 N. Main St., Hampstead.
Peggy Stone, who holds a bachelor's degree in early childhood education and 15 years of teaching experience, decided to open the local preschool.
Stone said she has the enthusiastic support of the Rev. George Tuttle.
The program will include art, computer use, woodworking, language arts, math, science, drama, social studies, music and movement and creative writing. The program is open to children ages 2 through 4.
The schedule offers the option of two, three, or five days a week. The school is held from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. with an extension for 4-year-olds until 2 p.m.
Great books, videos
Encourage others to enjoy a great book, wonderful CD or instructional video in North Carroll: News and Views written by co-editors Laura Robinson and Kris Peters, staff members at the North Carroll library branch. The quarterly publication is available at the branch.
The public may submit short articles to share great finds from the library shelves.
"We'd love to spread the word that there's great stuff at the library," the editors wrote in the summer issue.
Future issues will detail library branch improvements, such as the word processing center and Word system classes to be offered in the fall.
The library is at 2255 Hanover Pike. Information: 410-386-4480.
Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.