‘Just people that love music’

Published 8:00 pm Friday, April 12, 2013

     Members of the Ole Brook Wind Symphony gathered Tuesday night for one last rehearsal before their annual spring concert.

     Co-conductors Leroy Smith and D.P. Hawkins took turns waving the baton as the 42-member ensemble sharpened their repertoire during the culmination to months of arduous practice.

     The symphony is set to perform Tuesday, April 16 at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. The show starts at 7 p.m. and admission is, believe it or not, free.

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     Despite the local troupe’s bestowment of quality, cultural entertainment to the community, their only compensation comes from a genuine love of music and the opportunity to play with and for others who share that passion.

     “I enjoy it; that’s the bottom line right there,” said Charles McCall, a retired high school band director and orchestra president for the symphony. “As long as I am able to, I will play.”

     The 70 year-old Franklin County resident plays trombone with the group and represents one of 13 retired or current band directors among the talented musicians.

     Yet, one’s imagined demographic of the group might prove inaccurate. Along with a segment of seasoned professionals, the symphony is also made up of several high school and college students as well as fledgling instrumentalists just seeking a group to play with.

     “There are a couple of hacks among us,” Steve Edge, a full time engineering consultant and part time tuba player, said jokingly “But we take in members whether they are good or bad.”

     Edge is the tuba section leader,

     “Well, everybody here really knows what they are doing,” Edge admitted.

     After all, sitting next to Edge is Jason Maxwell, a master’s degree in performing arts recipient and former player at the New York Philharmonic. 

     The symphony typically performs two concerts a year with the occasional addition of a special Fourth-of-July performance.

     The group manages to remain organized despite a lack of major financial backing. The bulk of their funding is provided by a donation box set out at performances.

     “We hope people will put a couple of dollars in it,” Edge said. ” One particular guy usually stuffs the box with around a hundred dollars.”

     Edge would not disclose the identity of the generous patron.

     “We play where we can afford to,” he said.

     Edge explained that acoustically desirable venues such as the auditoriums at Brookhaven High School and the Mississippi School of the Arts can charge hundreds of dollars to rent, a cost the non-profit group cannot bear.

     Luckily, current director of bands at Co-Lin and former conductor of the symphony, Shaw Furlow, has helped provide a suitable venue for the symphony.

     It may not be Carnegie Hall, but the members are grateful and enthusiastic to perform.

     “We are just people that love music,” Edge said.