MATTOON -- The Mattoon Community Concert Band that formed last fall performed its first concert at the annual Mattoon Artworks downtown festival on Saturday.

The band performed at 10 a.m. in the train depot's Lone Elm Room to kick off a day of live music there that also included a Sound Source Music youth open mic event and a performance by the Irish Music Circle. The room was decorated for the occasion, with displays of prize-winning artwork from Mattoon Arts Council shows.

Guest conductor Jaida Brockman, a Mattoon resident who is a music education major at Eastern Illinois University, led the band through a set list that ranged from patriotic songs to music from Disney's "Aladdin."

Brockman said the band provides additional opportunities for the community to hear live music and for its musicians to get more experience playing in front of live audiences.

"This is a really great opportunity for me to get in front of a actual ensemble," Brockman said of serving as a guest conductor for band director Jessica Closson. Brockman, who plays the flute, said she hopes to take part in the band as a musician, as well.

The Mattoon Community Concert Band also has concerts scheduled for 7 p.m. June 17, July 15, Aug. 19, and Sept. 16 at Heritage Park, a venue that also hosted live music and children's craft activities during Artworks on Saturday.

Musicians in the community band include students, school band directors and retirees, among others. Brockman said the students can learn from the adult musicians in the band while performing alongside them.

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Ten-year-old Sophie Childress, who will be a sixth-grader at Mattoon Middle School this fall, said she was recruited to play flute for the community band this summer by Closson, who was her band director at Williams Elementary School.

Sophie said she likes having Closson as a band director again and getting to play music with the grownups in the community band, although learning all of their names can be confusing. Sophie said her favorite song to play with this band is the "Great Locomotive Chase" because its a "catchy song."

Allen and Gail Price of Mattoon said they played music together in their high school band and have enjoyed both being in the community band.

Gail Price said the community band has provide a chance for her to play her clarinet again in a group setting. Allen Price said he has been playing his euphonium with community groups at Eastern and in other towns in the region in recent years, but is glad to have the opportunity to perform in his hometown again.

With the Mattoon Community Concert Band, Gail Price said her favorite song to perform is "God Bless America" and her husband said his favorite is "Bohemian Rhapsody."

"We enjoy music in all forms," Gail Price said.

More information about the band is available by contacting Closson at 217-343-1060 or clossonj@mattoon.k12.il.us.

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Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRobStroud



Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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