It’s not uncommon for community music groups to lack a solid core of standout musicians.
Not so with the Wesley Chapel Ensemble.
“We’ve been very lucky,” said director Scott Leahy. “We have some great musicians in the band. We seem to attract strong players.”
The nearly 5-year-old community concert band has about 60 musicians — mostly woodwind and brass players but percussion and a few string instrument players, too. The youngest member is 12 years old and the oldest is 85 years old. It is a mix of amateur adult, professional and student musicians.
The group rehearses Thursday evenings at on County Line Road.
“We certainly have a wide variety of crowd-pleasers,” Leahy said of the ensemble's repertoire. Musicians perform everything from classical pieces and typical marches to the theme of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and a medley of tunes by the rock band Chicago.
To join, members need only to know how to read music and have basic playing knowledge.
“We’re not a professional group,” Leahy said. “We don’t really have any audition requirements. We put out some high-caliber performances, though.”
Trombone player Glenn Weatherly is the founding member of the group. He started it in summer 2007, shortly after moving to Wesley Chapel from Michigan and becoming frustrated by the lack of community music groups.
“The closest one was in New Port Richey and, I think, Ybor City,” he said. “It took us awhile to get going. It took about a year, a year and a half, to get a solid core of five to seven people.”
But then it grew. And grew and grew. Weatherly said when he started the group he never could have imagined it would grow to its current size.
The Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble recently filed for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Weatherly said the purpose of the group is to entertain, educate, mentor the students on board and "to promote the awareness of the performing arts."
Members come from throughout the area, including New Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, Dade City and Land O’ Lakes.
What’s the most satisfying aspect of the ensemble for Weatherly?
“I think getting out in the community and doing a service,” he said. “The number one thing is people in the group get something out of it. A lot of them don’t have a place to play or might be new to the area. Each person is different in what they get out of it, but I think they would miss it if they didn’t have it.”
The Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble will perform April 27 at the Relay for Life in Wesley Chapel. They have also set a tentative date of May 20 to perform at the Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel. Sponsors are still needed for the performance.
For more information, visit www.wesleychapelwindensemble.com.