Sunday's concert a musical tribute to the armed forces, Lenoir High School Band

Nov. 08, 2013 @ 08:44 AM

Joseph Earp has been the band director at Cox Mill High School in Concord for all five years of its existence, building the program from a small group of 30 students who struggled to play the B-flat scale, to a group that has grown to 200 young musicians who have won consecutive superior ratings and numerous first place awards.

On Sunday, he’ll bring the “Spirit of Cox Mill” symphonic band to perform in Lenoir, and learn about the history of school bands in Lenoir, which he said helped to shape school bands across the state and greatly affected hiw own life and music. Earp is a Lenoir native and graduate of West Caldwell High School.

The band will play a joint concert at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center at 3 p.m. Sunday with the Harper School Concert Band, directed by John Craig, who was Earp’s band director during his years at West.

Last spring, when Earp heard the Cox Mill band had been selected to play at this year’s North Carolina Music Educators Convention in Winston-Salem on Monday, Nov. 11, he decided to try to schedule a concert ahead of it with his old band director in his hometown, to let his students practice the music they will play at the convention.

Then, he went a step further, writing a piece from scratch that tells the story of the Lenoir’s famed high school band through music, and using the trip as an educational opportunity for his band students to learn about the storied Lenoir High School band.

The concert will start with The Harper Concert Band, which features a number of former LHS band members, performing a number of songs to honor the armed forces, including the “Armed Forces Salute,” which features a collaboration of tunes picked to honor each branch of the military.

The American Legion flag detail and members of the Lenoir Fire Department will be on hand, and at the end of the concert, the two bands will play together for the finale.

The Spirit of Cox Mill will play songs including two by Earp, “From a Distance” and “Lenoir ‘Remember the Bearcats.'"

“I wrote this back in the spring and over the summer specifically for this concert,” Earp said. “To honor the Lenoir High School band and all the conductors and band directors that were part of that program that made such a huge impact on band in our state.”

Sunday, the band will start its day at the Caldwell Heritage Museum to hear John Craig and Camilla Graeber speak about the Lenoir band, then head to the old Lenoir band building just before the concert.

“I’m excited to be able to bring my group to my hometown to share these things with them,” Earp said.