After playing in school bands from fourth grade through high school or college, some adults don't give up playing the instruments they love. They join a community band.
Atlantic County alone has three such groups, said Mark Kadetsky, of Egg Harbor Township. He is an original member and the current music director of the 65-piece Atlantic Pops Community Band, which has been combining a love of music with philanthropy since its inception in 1998. There is also the South Jersey Area Wind Ensemble and the Hamilton Township Town Band.
Atlantic Pops' next concert is its 2012 Holiday Toy Collection Concert on Dec. 7. Instead of paying a ticket price, audience members are each asked to bring a new toy for a child, to be distributed at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, said Kadetsky, 42. In the 15 years the group has been holding the toy drive, it has collected about 200 toys per year, he said.
The group will play a combination of winter and holiday music at the Egg Harbor Township Com-munity Center., as well as patriotic music, since the concert falls on Pearl Harbor Day, Kadetsky said.
It also will play "Winter Fanfare," a piece written by band member Dan Sullivan, of Egg Harbor Township, who is a sophomore music education major at Rowan University; and a song called "Shalom," as the concert is on the first night of Hanukkah. Guest conductor is Mike Longdo, the re-tired marching band director at Southern Regional High School, who also plays french horn.
All of the group's concerts are philanthropic. Its spring concert benefits the Ensign John R. Elliott HERO Foundation for Designated Drivers, and a summer concert raises funds to help pay for music lessons for middle and high school students, Kadetsky said.
"Our youngest member is 11. He happens to be very advanced for his age," Kadetsky said of trumpet player Benny Hambro, son of Lee Hambro, of Hambro's House of Music in Northfield.
The average age of band members is 29, and the oldest member is 68, Kadetsky said of Paul Carney, of Absecon.
Carney played clarinet in high school, then auditioned for the U.S. Navy music program, and played in bands in Keflavik, Iceland; and Norfolk, Va., he said. But after getting out of the Navy in 1966, he played sporadically for a few years, then stopped altogether as he became a fishing boat captain out of Cape May, and worked in various other jobs. He now works for Jersey Architectural Door and Supply in Atlantic City.
Carney didn't play again until hearing about the Atlantic Pops band starting in 1998.
"You don't lose your technique," Carney said, "(you) just lose your 'chops,'" or the strength of his mouth. That took a few months to regain, he said. Now he's the solo clarinetist, first chair.
There are a lot of music teachers, and teachers of other subjects, in the band, too, said Kadetsky, a bass player who also is band director at Fernwood Middle School in Egg Harbor Township. He is the former band director at Egg Harbor Township High School and a teacher of Chamber Orchestra and Music Education at Georgian Court University in Lakewood.
Kadetsky is finishing his doctorate in music at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., he said.
"I'm writing my dissertation now on the benefits of community band membership," Kadetsky said, which includes a chance for lifelong music learning.
The academic definition of a community band is a group that functions within a community, and gets its human, financial and other types of resources from within that community, he said. Atlantic Pops is grant funded and supported by the township, which provides rehearsal and performing space in the community center, he said.
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Holiday Toy Drive Concert
Held 7 p.m. Dec. 7, at Egg Harbor Township Community Center, 5045 English Creek Ave. Admission is one new toy, unwrapped or wrapped with a tag stating the age and gender of the child for which it is intended. Visit atlanticpops.com or the Atlantic Pops Community Band Facebook page.