116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa City’s New Horizons band is returning to live performances for the first time in more than a year and a half, with a new director at the helm.
Tyler Strickland, a graduate student in the Director of Musical Arts program at the University of Iowa, took over leadership of the band at the beginning of the summer.
Strickland said the group acclimated to playing together in-person well — though it was an adjustment to direct so many people at once after so much time away.
“It was a learning curve for me as well. Maybe I was just right there with them, and I think we all kind of learned together how to get back into making music as a large ensemble,” he said.
Strickland said he has quickly gotten to know the band, which has around 30 members in the summer.
“They are a great group of musicians that are really eager to play,” he said. “They’re just a fun group of people. It’s been only six or seven weeks at this point but we’ve bonded quickly.”
Joyce Marner, president of the New Horizons band, said the group has moved rehearsal spaces several times, from parks, to the senior center, and finally an indoor space at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area.
The band is preparing for its first post-pandemic concert on July 26 at the Coralville Center for Performing Arts.
What: New Horizons Band
Where: Coralville Center for the Performing Arts
When: July 26
Cost: $5 suggested donation
More information: https://www.coralvillearts.org/calendar.aspx?EID=993
Strickland said the band will perform around 45 minutes of music, including medleys of Disney music, Gershwin, and other favorites.
The group also is performing at Willow Creek Park on July 31.
Marner said the group have settled in to their new rehearsal space and are excited for the upcoming performances.
“We’re going to have to dig in and work a little harder to make the music sound as good as we know it can, even though we’ve had kind of a weird build up to it,” she said
The band practiced during the pandemic using a program called Smart Music.
Marner said while the program allowed the musicians to keep their skills sharp, it’s nothing compared to rehearsing in person.
“The difference in experience between essentially playing alone to being in a room with other people playing together, that it almost brings me to tears, because it sounded so good to hear somebody besides me,” she said.
Some of the band members are retired musicians and music educators, some played in high school or college, and some pick up an instrument for the first time when they join the band.
Marner picked up the flute around 15 years ago when she joined the New Horizons band.
“It’s a little harder when you’re older to learn something new, but that’s the whole concept behind the band — to keep your brain going, keep your body going, and make some music,” she said.
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