Christian van hemert

Two Iowa City bands team up to provide vacation memories and music


Steve schomberg

Musicians all over the community prepare and share holiday music.

The public has choice after choice. One of our favorites is the annual joint Sunday afternoon concert of the Iowa City New Horizons Band and the Iowa City Community Band, or NHB / ICCB for short. As musicians, we are thrilled with this chance to make public music after a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NHB / ICCB concert will take place Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Englert Theater in downtown Iowa City. Groups will follow Englert’s security policy available at https://englert.org/covid/. L’Englert will be responsible for validating the guests and the artists. For families with children who are not yet vaccinated, social distancing seats are available on the balcony.

The two groups prepare a mix of holiday music and other tunes. Among them are the familiars “Christmas Time with Charlie Brown”, “Green Sleeves”, “Here We Come A’Wassailing” and “Stars & Stripes for Christmas”. One of our favorites is LeRoy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride”.

The Iowa City Community Band plays some of the vacation favorites.

But we are going to tell you a secret. We have to rehearse and practice these familiar tunes.

We play these songs year after year and let ourselves be rocked by the thought that we know them. Then comes the rehearsal and, to our surprise, we want to play what we think the music sounds like, not what’s on the printed page. Yes, we are sloppy.

A teacher once said that the hardest part of playing music is concentrating. Composers and arrangers wanted music to sound in a special way.

We’ll tell you another secret. It is easier to play what we think the song looks like “ink”. Yes, that’s what’s going on in the minds of musicians in your community as they prepare to present the music to you.

We are mostly amateur musicians, playing for the sake of sharing music. We often think that the difference between the amateur and the professional is that you get paid. But as the end of the year holidays approach, we amateurs learn that it is also a question of concentration. This is why professional groups, choirs and orchestras can make a room sound fresh for repeated performance.

We hope to see you at Englert to enjoy this holiday concert. Come knowing that we are doing our best to emulate the professional by mustering as much focus as possible to ‘play the ink’.

Our undying hope is that “Sleigh Ride” will sound as fresh and new on Sunday as you remember it.

ICCB is unique in that it rehearses once and usually plays a concert the next day. Musicians from the community are invited to come rehearse and try us out.

ICCB rehearses at Iowa City West High School Saturday at 10 a.m. in the group room. Further information is available on the ICCB Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ICCBand).

NHB is intended for all people aged 50 and over to learn and play music; see web page for details (http://www.iowacitynhb.org). NHB is a fun way for retirees to get involved in the community and meet new friends.

Katie Martin serves as the publicist and plays the French horn for the Iowa City Community Band. She graduated from Wartburg College and returned to her hometown of Iowa City. She works at the Iowa Memorial Union. Steve Schomberg plays tuba in ICCB and NHB. He graduated from the University of Iowa; after his retirement, he returned to live in Iowa City and take advantage of his musical opportunities.