New Horizons Bands of Northern New York celebrates a decade
Monday, March 23, 2020 - 11:00 am

The New Horizons Bands of Northern New York recently celebrated their 10th anniversary with a dinner at the Presbyterian Church in Canton, catered by The Big Spoon Kitchen of Potsdam. When members are asked about what drew them to the band, many say they initially joined the band because a friend told them about it, or they heard about it through a concert or saw an article in the local paper.

The reason people stay is the camaraderie, the fun, to get out of the house, meet new people, and learn something new. Some members had played their instrument in high school or college, while others have started new instruments, and some have never had any prior musical experience.

After attending a few ‘New Horizons adult band camps’ in Michigan and New York, Ron Berry of Potsdam, a recently retired civil engineer, decided that the concept of senior adults gathering together to play their instruments from their youth was too good of an idea not to share with the greater Potsdam community.

Thus, in September of 2009, after a bit of advertising via posters, newspapers, a North Country Public Radio interview with Todd Moe, and the assistance of Crane professor Michael Schaff, 20 people showed up at 8 AM at the Crane School of Music for their first lessons with Crane students, and within 3 weeks we gathered in a large room and played ‘Hot Crossed Buns’--the melody was faintly recognizable!

It wasn’t long before we were practicing on our own with Ron leading the band while playing the tuba. We soon joined the New Horizons International Music Association, the mothership which guides nearly 200 similar bands and orchestras around the world. Carol Neubert of Canton served as President of the Steering Committee. Our first public appearance was in the Potsdam 2010 Summer Festival Parade on a flat-bed truck, courtesy of Jim Sheehan. As time went on and the band grew, we incorporated as a 501c3 not-for-profit organization with a Board of Directors, and we now have over 50 members playing in the concert band and/or the swing band. Our membership comes from all over St. Lawrence Co., including Star Lake, Edwards, Massena and Ogdensburg.

As we continue in our 11th year, our current Music Director, Ron Berry, will be retiring and handing the baton to Diane Mathie of Hannawa Falls. Diane is a retired music educator and will serve as our new Music Director. Diane will be assisted by Associate Directors Theresa Witmer of Potsdam and Paul Buell of Gouverneur. And it is likely that Ron will occasionally swing the baton, although he will be primarily amused in the low brass section of the band. The New Horizons Bands of Northern New York meets weekly all year on Friday mornings at The Crane School of Music and welcomes new members throughout the year.

The bands can be heard around the North Country at local festivals and event, especially in the summer and fall months. To find out more, you can contact the band by email at [email protected], or check out our website:

Ellen MacMaster

New Horizons Bands of Northern New York