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Dracut New Horizons Community Band Brings Cheer to The Arbors

December 9, 2018 GMT

DRACUT -- Members of the Dracut New Horizons Community Band looked over their sheet music Thursday evening in The Arbors at Dracut. The 12 musicians were a sea of red in their tops and button down shirts -- fitting attire for the Christmas concert they were minutes away from starting. A crowd of the assisted living facility’s residents waited patiently for the show to begin.

Jeffrey Richards, seated at the far right, cradled an alto saxophone in his hands. The Lowell resident said he learned to play the instrument just a few years ago. This band is his first.

“There’s nothing to worry about in here,” said Richards, 56, over the sounds of his bandmates warming up their instruments. “What’s the worst that can happen? You play a wrong note. Oops. It’s just fun.”

The band conductor and founder, Maureen Johnson, pointed at Richards.

“Jeff is the biggest sport in this whole group,” Johnson said. “The main thing about this group is we’re not real advanced, but we have a lot of fun together. We have a lot of fun!”

The community band brought holiday cheer to residents over the next hour or so through iconic songs like “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” and “Carol of the Bells.” This is the band’s second year performing at The Arbors, according to Activities Director Judi Parisi.

“We just love when entertainers will come in, especially if they’re local,” Parisi said. “The residents just love music so much, especially our memory-impaired residents. With music, they just remember so much.”

A moving moment during the evening program came when residents began singing, in unison, a portion of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

“With th’angelic host proclaim:

‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’

Hark! The herald angels sing,

‘Glory to the newborn King!’

“Boy, you people are the chorus!” Johnson said as applause rippled through the crowd. “You guys are good!”

Parisi said that impromptu sing-along was amazing and an example of “how their memory with music is so important.

Another highlight of the evening was a performance by the band’s new tuba player, Marcelo Troni, during “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” Troni, a Lowell resident who is originally from Brazil, is blind. As the 46-year-old played with ease, his fellow bandmates nodded along. When he finished, they applauded him. In modesty, the musician buried his head in his hands.

“Marcelo loves to play any instrument, but he’s a specialist in tuba,” Troni’s wife, Leidinaria Troni, said early that evening. “He loves to play in the Dracut band ... he needs to play. He loves to play music.”

After the concert, the musicians began packing up their instruments. Residents ambled out of the room. Carole Aubut, a resident of The Arbors who sat in the very back row, stayed in her seat. The 86-year-old Dracut native said she was very happy to see a community concert band based in Dracut, and that she felt the holiday spirit. She was among those residents who sang along to the songs she recognized.

“I’ve had a little hard time because I just lost my husband a year or so ago. We were married 68 years,” Aubut said. “I still sing every chance I get. I can’t sing well anymore because my soprano voice has gone to the altos, but I love music.”

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.