‘Big band’ offers Sunday serenade

It’s too late to attend this concert, but you can meet the band’s new co-conductor, and learn more about the upcoming matinee concert …

The Portland Metro Concert Band begins its Winter Concert.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Members of the all-volunteer, non-profit Portland Metro Concert Band gathered at the David Douglas High School Horner Performing Arts Center Auditorium on the afternoon of January 11 for their annual Winter Concert.

At 3:00 p.m., co-Director Jay Burchak provided the first down stroke with his baton, and the band of about 45 members began playing “March 2014” – a piece composed by band-member and tuba artist Michael Landers.

Heather Rogers adds percussive notes to a tune, as she plays the marimba.

The band performed a diverse program – from rousing marches by Sousa, to scores from Broadway shows. Included were selections from “Les Miserables”, and also classical works, such as “Rossini’s Semiramide” and Leroy Anderson’s “Serenata”.

At the intermission, one of the original directors, Jay Burchak, recalled that Portland Metro Concert Band started in 1992. “It’s still going; and I hope it’s getting better!” Burchak quipped.

Co-Director Jay Burchak conducts the band as they play Leroy Anderson’s “Serenata”.

“By putting out notices, we’ve been building our personnel; we’ve advertised for more clarinet players, French horns, and percussion players,” Burchak told East Portland News. “Hopefully we’ll continue to pick up personnel.”

The best part for him, Burchak added, is to be able to keep directing a concert band. “I was the band director here David Douglas High School for 25 years. We have some parents of students in our band today.”

Baritone Horn players Glenn Lowe, Bob Meyer, John Murdoch, and Dave Webber add rich low notes to a melody.

Cookies and coffee! The band members’ crew (their families!) bring a wide variety of cookies and treats, gleefully enjoyed by the audience.

Starting off the second half of the concert is the song, “The Three Jets”, featuring the trumpet trio of Jack Mahoney, Jay Burchak, and Boris Dziubenko.

As the second half of the show began, the audience was introduced to the new co-director striding up to the podium, Dr. Roger Nickerson Ph.D.

The band continued with a program of popular and classic tunes.

Co-Director Dr. Roger Nickerson Ph.D. cues in the horn section.

“Very few people refer to me as ‘doctor’!” said Nickerson after the show. “Yes, it is a doctorate in music.”

The youthful-appearing Nickerson said he’s been a teacher in Oregon City and West Linn schools for about 30 years.

“I was just introduced to this band by members who said a director position was going to be coming open,” recalled Nickerson. “I interviewed last spring for three months, for both the Concert Band, and the East County Community Orchestra.”

He was required to bring his baton, because part of the “interview” process included conducting the band. “They decided to take me on this fall. It worked out very well.”

Even though it is not a professional gig, Nickerson said the best part of being involved with the group is “being with all of these musicians want to get together and play. We do enjoy the camaraderie, and it fills a need both for the musicians and the audience, bringing together people who enjoy good music.”

The Portland Metro Concert Band performs before an appreciative crowd in the Horner Auditorium.

The next opportunity to hear the Portland Metro Concert Band perform at this venue will be on Sunday, April 12, in a joint Spring Concert with East County Community Orchestra, starting at 3:00 p.m.

And, the band returns for “Welcome to Summer” concert in the Horner Auditorium on Friday, May 29, with the downbeat at 7:30 p.m.

They play other venues as well, check their official website to find out more: CLICK HERE.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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