“The Repasz Band is back in full force!” declares conductor Jeff Dent.
Indeed, after various COVID-related struggles with membership, practice and performance going all the way back to the spring of 2020, the city’s 191-year-old ensemble will perform its regular holiday concert this year with a full complement of roughly 70 musicians.
The free performance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 at the Community Arts Center in downtown Williamsport.
“What with past COVID experiences, and moving the band’s home from City Hall in Williamsport down to Montgomery, some members have been hesitant to play,” says Dent. “But now, we are very happy to have them returning to our rehearsals and concerts.
“And,” he adds, “we are also excited to have nearly a dozen members returning after several years absence — or as new members performing their first formal concert with Repasz!”
As always, this year’s concert will open with “The Star-Spangled Banner” and close with the ensemble’s signature “Repasz Band March.”
In between those pieces, the band will perform a variety of marches and holiday songs, including several works with a Pennsylvania connection:
“The Eighth Candle” — which Dent calls “a prayer and dance celebrating Hanukkah” — was composed by PA resident Steve Reisteter for his friend and fellow-musician Ron Demkee, long-time conductor of the Allentown Band.
“‘March Grandioso’ was written by another Pennsylvania composer — Roland Seitz,” adds Dent. And the concert likewise features an arrangement of “We Three Kings”; that carol was originally penned by John Henry Hopkins — rector of Williamsport’s Christ Episcopal Church, a historic 1841 edifice that still stands along West Fourth Street in the city.
The Dec. 13 program also offers “And the Mountains Echoed Gloria,” which Dent describes as “a stunning concert fantasia using ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ as its base melody.”
Assistant conductor Jessica Lewis will lead the band through that tune, as well as “Cantique de Noel,” which is Mannheim Steamroller’s arrangement of “O Holy Night.” Lewis will also conduct “We Three Kings” and the “Mountains” piece, as well as “Quality Plus March.”
Associate conductor Theo Lentz will take the baton for “Skater’s Waltz,” “Grandiso,” Alfred Reed’s “Christmas Intrada” and a sprightly big-band medley called “In the Christmas Mood.”
The program also includes “Froehliche Weinnachten” and a selection of tunes from Alan Silvestri’s score to “The Polar Express,” both led by Dent.
And then, just before concluding with “Repasz Band March,” the ensemble will break out “A Christmas Singalong,” which — as the title suggests — offers concertgoers a chance to sing along with numerous holiday standards.
The Dec. 13 concert is free and open to the public.