They come strolling in, carrying instrument cases.
They settle themselves in — around the band room at Thomas Weightman Middle School — and begin tuning up.
As more musicians arrive, the practice glides into full gear.
This is a group that calls itself the Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble, and they’re rehearsing for a performance called “Broadway Comes to Pasco” which is scheduled for June 13 at 7 p.m.
In addition to medleys from Broadway musicals, the program includes special guest Dana P. Rowe, who is a Broadway composer. The evening will include the debut of an original arrangement of Jeremy Silverman, former professor of music at Saint Leo University.
June Hammond, an associate professor of music at Saint Leo University, directs the ensemble.
During a recent rehearsal, she put the musicians through their paces.
She coaxed and cajoled the musicians as they rehearsed — urging them to hit proper notes with precise timing.
Hammond has directed the group for about a year-and-a-half.
“One of my goals has been to grow the musicians. Challenge them mentally. Challenge them physically. Teach them new things. I’m always looking for pieces that are going to push them, not only musically, but intellectually,” Hammond said.
At the same time, she said, “you have to temper that with pieces that are going to keep their interest.”
When people hear the ensemble perform, she said, they “are usually quite surprised by the wide range of music that we play,” she said.
Besides challenging the musicians, Hammond also enjoys passing along tidbits of her musical knowledge.
She may share a fact about Baroque music history, or tell them about Beethoven’s habit of counting the coffee beans in his grinder, she said. Or, maybe she’ll reveal that Beethoven’s favorite food was macaroni and cheese, or that he routinely enjoyed fish and potatoes on Fridays.
The Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble began in 2007, when Glenn Weatherly, a newcomer from Michigan, decided to try to form a brass quintet.
“It actually started as a church outreach program,” said Weatherly, who was then attending the former Crossroads United Methodist Church.
Over the years, the group has evolved.
In the beginning, it rehearsed in a backroom of the Hyundai dealership in Wesley Chapel and then at the church. It has been meeting regularly at Weightman, which is located on Wells Road in Wesley Chapel, since 2012.
The ensemble, which now has roughly 40 members, has grown mostly through word of mouth, Weatherly said.
It is made up of people from all walks of life — including a banker, a caterer, a doctor, a teacher, to name just a few.
For Weatherly, the practices are close to home. He lives in Wesley Chapel. Others make the trek from communities including Lutz, Land O’ Lakes, Dade City and Zephyrhills.
They are of assorted ages and skill levels.
“Our oldest member is 85, and we have several high school students. Both of my daughters play with us from time to time,” Weatherly said.
Molly Bacon, a bassoon player, thinks it’s nice that parents can make music with their kids. “My son plays tuba here,” said Bacon, who also plays in three other musical groups.
Most of the musicians played in high school, and some played in college.
Some, like Bacon, play in several groups.
Others, like Dr. Sandy Lamphier hadn’t played their instrument for ages, before they picked it up again.
The group rehearses every Thursday night — except for several weeks in the summer. Typically, they practice for about two hours.
For some, the ensemble is their only chance to make music with a group.
“We have one home-schooled student. She studies privately, but this gives her a group to play in,” Weatherly said.
The ensemble is made up of mainly brass, woodwind and percussion instruments.
But, Weatherly said, “We have one violin.” The group previously had a cello player, too.
Dues are $25 a year to cover costs for sheet music and other expenses.
The show they are preparing for includes music from West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar and the Wizard of Oz.
“We have a special guest coming in, Dana P. Rowe. He is a professional Broadway composer,” Weatherly said.
Rowe composed the original music for Zombie Prom, the Witches of Eastwick and Brother Russia, Weatherly added.
“Because we have Dana Rowe coming to town, we actually hired Jeremy Silverman to work with Dana, and he actually arranged an original piece just for our group.
“This is a medley of Dana’s music. This has never been played before,” Weatherly said.
While the musicians look forward to performances, they enjoy their rehearsals, too.
Lamphier, who plays French horn, said she played the instrument when she was in middle school and high school, but then not again for more than 30 years.
Since joining the ensemble, “I, personally, have improved my abilities about 5,000 percent,” she said, via email.
“But that’s not saying much,” she added, “because I started at a very rudimentary level.”
She enjoys improving her skills.
“We do a lot of sight reading and are constantly challenged with more difficult music,” she said.
She enjoys the challenge.
“I look forward to being there each week,” Lamphier said.
Broadway Comes to Pasco
What: Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble performs an evening of music, with special guest Broadway composer Dana P. Rowe and the debut of an original arrangement of Jeremy Silverman.
When: 7 p.m., June 13
Where: Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, 37015 Orange Valley Lane, Dade City.
Who: All are welcome
How much: Free admission
Published May 27, 2015