Community Band Spotlight: December 2009 December 03 2009, 0 Comments

CHESAPEAKE BAY WIND ENSEMBLE Written by Ryley Erhardt Edited by Krista Slinkard Welcome to the Altissimo! Community Band Spotlight for December. Each month we look at community bands across the nation, and this month we’re pleased to present the Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble.

Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble

The Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble is a non-profit band, which performs for communities in and around the Hampton Roads area (Williamsburg, Hampton, and Newport News).  Formed by Robert Arledge and the late Jim Paschall in 1998, it now consists of around forty members.  Impressively, nine of its current members are either active duty military or veterans of the Armed Services, including the Music Director who has over twenty-seven years of service. As a non-profit, the Ensemble tries to give more than just music to its community.  Since its founding, the band has given over five thousand dollars in scholarships to promising youth in musical fields, permitting them to further their education. Beyond this, the Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble specifically encourages high school students to join.  This gives these students professional musical experience that is difficult to acquire from school training alone.  With its youngest member having only witnessed fifteen new years, while the oldest is hinging on ninety, this creates a fascinating diversity within, which allows the older members to mentor the younger, preparing the next generation of Virginian musicians to perform at a high caliber. The band’s current conductor, Tom Altringer has a fascinatingly eclectic musical history.  Commissioned as a Warrant Officer/Bandmaster in 1978, he spent the next twenty-three years traveling and conducting in such places as Brooklyn, Washington, New Jersey, and even Germany.  Perhaps his most interesting assignment was to the 6th Infantry Division Band in Anchorage, Alaska.  Besides worrying about musical perfection, Mr. Altringer had to address the issue of instruments not freezing up while performing.  After overcoming this unique adversity, conducting concerts in the milder weather conditions of Virginia must be a relief. The fascinating variety represented within the Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble has allowed it to touch all ages within the Virginia Peninsula, while permitting the younger members to learn from the extensive professional experience of the older members. Because of this professionalism and dedication to improving the youth of the community, we proudly present The Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble as our Community Band Spotlight for November.  If you would like more information about the Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble, please visit their website at **Special thanks to Karen Kittell, President of the CBWE, for her help in making this article ***If you know of a community band you'd like to see featured, please send an email to