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The day has cooled; the crowd is gathering on blankets and chairs. It must be a Tuesday night of a Corvallis summer. As it has for 37 summers, the Corvallis Community Band has struck up a bit of old-fashioned Americana near the gazebo at Central Park.

Tuesday night’s theme was “Broadway!” and featured selections from “The Sound of Music” and “The King and I.”

Sponsored by the Corvallis/OSU Symphony and supported by the Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department, the concert series brings out a loyal audience each year.

Sue Borden has played with the Corvallis Community Band since it struck its first chord in 1976, but that does not make the challenge each summer of playing a weekly concert — with just an hour of rehearsal time — any easier.

The band begins to practice for its shows at 7 p.m. Tuesday nights during the summer. At 8 p.m., the band begins to play in Central Park in Corvallis. The series continues until Aug. 27.

Borden, a retired math instructor at Oregon State University, said that even after years of playing the clarinet, she still struggles with performing music with such minimal practice. However, she said the veteran musicians learn just to keep on playing.

“Students usually are not familiar with the music and can be intimidated,” she said. “People keep coming back, so they must be having a good time.”

Peter Widmer, 18, plays saxophone in the band. He just graduated this spring from Corvallis High School, and he admits to feeling a bit of panic when he sees a new piece of music.

“Being a new player, it’s a difficult challenge,” he said.

Widmer, who will attend Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, said that if he needs to, he will skip the parts he can’t play.

Widmer started to play the saxophone just two years ago and joined the community band around the same time, on the recommendation of a music instructor.

“It’s a really great way to meet people,” he said. He plans to continue playing with the band whenever he’s back in town during his summer breaks.

Borden said one of the nice things about the Corvallis Community Band is that it has members of all ages. Musicians who can play at the high school level can play with the band, and it has members still in middle school. Some elders join after they pick up the instruments they had left in the attic for decades — and rediscover they’d missed making music.

“We love to play together,” Borden said. “I’ll probably die with a horn in my hands.”

To learn more about the Corvallis Community Band and their free summer concert series, see

If you go

WHAT: The Corvallis Community Band’s Summer Concerts in the Park series

WHEN: The concerts start at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Aug. 27, each with a different theme. Upcoming themes include hits of the 1960s, jazz night, and community band favorites

WHERE: All the concerts will be held in front of the gazebo in Central Park in Corvallis. No seating is provided, so audience members are invited to bring low chairs and blankets

COST: The concerts are free


The Bush Pilots are performing at noon at the Memorial Union Quadrangle at Oregon State University. The presentation is Part of the “Wednesdays @ Noon” concert series, which runs through Aug. 14. Schedule/information:

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Anthony Rimel covers K-12 education. He can be reached at 541-758-9526 or