Arts and Entertainment

Make music with the Island Band

Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times Former junior high band director George Konopik plays his clarinet during a rehearsal of The All Island Community Band on Thursday, Sept. 30. The band is currently seeking new members to help with its fall and winter performances. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times Former junior high band director George Konopik plays his clarinet during a rehearsal of The All Island Community Band on Thursday, Sept. 30. The band is currently seeking new members to help with its fall and winter performances.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

San de Fuca resident George Konopik has recently launched an island-wide campaign. But fear not, this one isn’t accompanied by overly-dramatic political commercial attacks.

Konopik is on a mission to recruit new members for a 44-year-old symphonic band based out of Oak Harbor.

“We’ve been an organization since 1966, and we’re running short of band members right now so we’re putting on a campaign to get some interest,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know we have a concert band around here.”

The All Island Community Band, formerly called The Oak Harbor Community Band, was started by Capt. Earl Hedblom, a commanding officer of the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station hospital. Originally, Hedblom only intended to gather musicians to play at an Octoberfest party at a station club. But the fall event proved to be so much fun that the founding members decided to continue playing together, and more than four decades later, the group is still performing.

Konopik has been in the band since its first year. He served as the Oak Harbor junior high’s band director for many years and led the community band for 25. Now, one of Konopik’s former students, Bruce Seltveit, has taken over.

Currently the band has about 15 actively participating members and rehearses once a week.

Konopik said a full symphonic band is generally made up of about 80 people, but he’s only aiming to hit the mid-30s. Though any and all instruments are welcome, Konopik said the clarinet and trombone sections have the most need right now. Additionally, he stressed that all skill levels and ages are accepted. The band has high schoolers and 80-year-old members participating.

The group plays all types of music from traditional military marches to holiday tunes. Right now the musicians are gearing up for a Veterans Day performance at the high school and plan on playing Christmas music for the Salvation Army bell ringers during December.

“We get a certain pleasure out of community involvement,” Konopik said.

The All Island band often plays for festivals, fundraisers and the annual Fourth of July and Holland Happening celebrations.

To join, people can simply show up at the rehearsals at Oak Harbor Middle School on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. For more information on the band, call Konopik at 675-5778.

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