Last night's concert by the Harwich Town Band held at the community center was a kind of community entertainment I had never experienced before. Not specifically for children although a few children were present, the concert was conducted in a spirit of playfulness adults usually have forgotten. Rachel and I went because the band master and his wife (the drummer) are in a class I take and because he had explained that they had made a shellenbach for the concert. The shellenbach is a musical "tree" of bells that grew out of a practice of the Turkish Army (just when I don't know) of carrying such a construction, with various pieces of metal, not necessarily bells, but things that would ratttle) -- using the instrument as a noise maker to convince an enemy that they were a huge force. Peter had said that their biggest and strongest member would play this instrument which required strength and stamina. The instrument looked a bit like a skeletal Christmas tree with bells of various colors and sizes and the player was the trombonist, indeed a large man. A VERY large man, a brawny 6+ footer...attired in a kilt! The piece requiring the shellenbach was by LeRoy Anderson who Peter had met and talked to about the instrument. It was also played in the grand finale, another Anderson piece ending with a rather insane variation of Jingle Bells.
Indeed many members of the band were "festively" attired. Peter's sports coat was a true Christmas red, and many band members wore red. They also wore hats -- with red and green pompons, like a penguin, like a bear, hats with a variety of lights that blinked in bright colors. The music began with an opening welcome song sung by the audience with the band and included a carol sing along later. The musical choices were quirky and fun, from show song medleys to another sing along, a Chanukah medley, to our brawny man singing a gospel style Go Tell it On the Mountain, a circus march ("because Christmas morning at a house with small children is often a circus") to the Chipmunk song, to Hallelujah Chorus and much more. It was a grin and feel happy event -- for adults. Everyone left smiling.