In 2014, concert band director Bruce Burritt and I began to form a plan to spread the word about one of his favorite activities. Burritt conducts the Symphony Orchestra for the Rochester New Horizons Band (RNHB), a now multi-national, Rochester-born organization tasked with organizing amateur musicians, mostly senior citizens, into bands dedicated to playing different genres of music. Music is Burritt’s passion, after a career as a high school band teacher he was surprised to find something new when he started conducting at Roc New Horizons:
I had to work a lot harder to get really good expression out of high school students, much more so than I have to out of our current members who are, of course, seniors and who have a whole life before them that they’ve experienced… they’ve experienced great joy, excitement, great sadness, tragedy and all the wonderful emotions in between all of those. It’s really interesting to see how they respond to the music that we give them and really quickly grab hold of the emotion part of that very effectively.
You could call it coincidence, the Rochester New Horizons Band wraps up in June and begins again in September. This leaves Burritt (along with co-conductor, Alan Woy) time to prepare the program in July and August as he once did in his days teaching adolescents.
The RNHB consists of five concert bands and a number of sectionals and ensembles.
The next piece is a summary of three of the traditional concert bands. The Symphonic, Concert and Green Band. The last is merely defined in terms of color so called because its members are “green,” (that’s slang for inexperienced). Green band is a popular place for many new members to start, regardless of their instrument prowess.
The string orchestra is comprised of cellos, violins, violas and contrabasses:
The two jazz bands, the Vintage Jazz Band and Big Band, were the last to be created at RNHB. Their unique and classic sound is the most distinct as one hears it wafting through the concrete walls of the Unitarian Universalist church, the venue that RNHB rents out every Tuesday: