Punxsy alumni ready to strike up the band — again

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The first weekend of July will see — and hear — more music this summer, even after the conclusion of the Groundhog Festival.

This summer, former members of any instrumental group from Punxsutawney Area High School are invited to take part in the first-ever PHS Alumni Band, with a rehearsal scheduled for Saturday, July 7, and a performance Sunday, July 8.

To learn how to participate, see the bottom of this story.

Todd Clontz, a 1987 PAHS graduate who currently owns Rosso Music Company in Brooklyn, Md., and serves as the music director of the Baltimore Marching Ravens, said efforts to form the all-alumni group have been ongoing for about a year.

The rehearsal, concert and any accompanying events are open to any PAHS graduate who took part in the high school’s music program.

“The thing about it is, we would love to get some of the younger ones; that would be great,” Clontz said. “We encourage that, even people who graduated in the 1990s, even up until two weeks ago.”

A Facebook page dedicated to the band has drawn 211 members, and more than 40 people are scheduled to take part in the weekend events, which come at the culmination of the 46th annual Groundhog Festival.

“I hope it will become an annual thing, but this will be
the first organized alumni concert,” Clontz said.

The closest resemblance to this sort of effort came in the early 1990s, when alumni gathered to perform for retiring music director James Colonna. This year, the first-ever PHS Alumni Band event will be dedicated to him.

Initially, the early plans suggested making the event a surprise for Colonna, but that has since changed.

“I actually have talked to him; we want to make sure he’s there,” Clontz said. “I called and talked to him, and he now knows what’s going on.”
So far, those taking part have tossed around many ideas for music from the days when they performed in the band.

“What we’ll do is when we get there Saturday, we’ll go through and quickly determine which pieces will be the ones that get played,” Clontz said. “We have a lot of choices that we’ll limit down to a few.”

While some of those who plan to participate remain actively playing music, there are those who are not, as Clontz said, “Some people haven’t played in 20 or 30 years.”

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Any PAHS graduate who took part in the music program as a student is invited to take part in the PHS Alumni Band, which will rehearse Saturday, July 7, and perform Sunday, July 8, at the high school.

To learn more, check out the group's Facebook page by searching PHS Alumni Band, or e-mail sharegolf@aol.com.