‘Concert in the Park’ a tribute to former band director

SHERIDAN — Tuesday’s Concert in the Park will feature a tribute to former Sheridan High School Band Director Bill Avery.

The concert will be at the Kendrick Park Band Shell beginning at 7:30 p.m. The idea was created by Avery’s sons Ned, Jon and Mark to celebrate both his past career contributions and his recent 90th birthday.

“I was surprised and delighted,” Avery said of his reaction to the idea. “It’s a real honor…[and] I hope it goes well for everyone, including me.”

Avery taught band in Sheridan from 1950 to 1985.

“His strongest attributes were his enthusiasm, his ability to talk to his students, his knowledge about music and composers,” former student and Big Horn High School Band Director Ariel Downing said. “And, he just knows how to teach.”

Former students from as far away as New York, Illinois and Washington will be coming to pay tribute to their high school band director and even preform in the event. All of the music selections were chosen by Avery.

“The number of musicians he’s influenced is shown through the number of us who are still playing, whether professionally or as a hobby,” Downing said. “Music is something you can always continue. He’s been a real inspiration.”

“Anybody can be a part of music, as performer or teacher, it all contributes to the community,” Avery said.

Several of Avery’s former students have gone on to pursue musical careers and interests, including Bob Washut, a 1969 SHS graduate. Washut has composed a piece titled “Paying It Forward” specifically for the concert in honor of Avery’s musical contribution.

“His impact on the lives of his students and the Sheridan musical community is quite remarkable,” Washut said. “This composition was a special way for me to express my sincere gratitude for everything he did for all of us.”

The concert in the park will be free to the public as always, and all high school and adult musicians are encouraged to join in celebrating Avery’s musical and leadership contribution to the Sheridan community.

 

Sheridan Press intern Lucy LaRosa wrote this article.

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