FROSTBURG — The love of music often brings people together, and for one last time that will be the case at Beall High School when several alumni join the current ensemble for its final performance.

Jay and Janet Stevens will complete the family package May 20 when they join their son and daughter, Alex and Tristan, on stage. The twins are freshmen, with Alex on the trumpet and Tristan the alto sax. Mom, the band director at Mount Savage, will play oboe while Dad, a geography teacher at Mount Savage, will join the clarinetists.

“It is bittersweet,” Jay, a 1974 alum, admitted.

In the fall, Beall and Westmar will merge to open Mountain Ridge High School, which is being built in the shadows of Beall and is the first high school to be constructed in the county in more than 50 years.

“Everyone I’ve talked to in this community is very upbeat and happy to get the new school,” Jay said. “Change is part of life but it’s nice that this is not passing without a commemoration.”

David Kauffman, Beall’s band director, can be credited with inviting alumni for the final spring concert that will begin at 3 p.m. May 20 in the school’s auditorium.

“We’re definitely excited for the opportunity to present this closure for the program,” Kauffman, who will continue his duties at Mountain Ridge, said. “I think, generally speaking, there’s a respect among the current band members for those that preceded them while embracing the opportunity to start the next chapter in their high school experience.”

About 20 alumni will return to the stage with John Scott of Denton, Texas, coming the farthest.

A graduate of the class of ’65, Scott took lessons from Frank Munson as a middle schooler and then later was a band student of his at Beall.

Scott now is a professor of clarinet and an associate dean at the University of North Texas.

Kauffman’s also been successful in bringing back a number of former directors, including Lua Syckes, who has resided in Sun City West, Ariz., the past 22 years.

Syckes, a 1936 graduate of Allegany, went on to major in mathematics and music at Oberlin College in Ohio. When he returned to the area, he began teaching algebra at Beall, which was located on Broadway. The current Beall was being constructed and ready for classes in January 1941, he said.

He thought a marching band was what the school needed and he, along with the “would-be musicians,” collected a mile of pennies to purchase blue and white uniforms.

World War II caused Syckes to put aside his teaching career for three years. After the war ended, he earned his master’s in instrumental music at Columbia University and accepted a music position at Fort Hill. He transferred to Allegany the following year and remained there as director of music until his retirement in 1974.

Many people may know Syckes as Uncle Lu from his years as the owner of the Tastee Freeze in LaVale.

He continues to play the trumpet in several community bands.

Other directors slated to attend are Harold McClay, Janet Jones, Martin Crump and Munson, who served 33 years — half the band’s existence. Kauffman said between Syckes and Munson’s tenure, the band had 13 directors in 11 years.

Selections for the concert are “Toccata for Band,” which Scott said he played in high school, “Shenandoah,” “The Jig Is Up,” “Gettysburg” and “As All the Heavens Were a Bell,” which will feature a choir under the direction of Michaela Linn.

“Our objective is to fill all 937 seats in that auditorium as a way of (giving) the proper send off for the program,” Kauffman said.

The Sunday performance is the culmination of a three-day event that begins May 18 with a percussion ensemble and jazz ensemble performances in Frostburg State University’s Pealer Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. The evening’s performances are free and open to the public.

On May 19, an All Years Band Banquet will take place at the Lane University Center at 6:30 p.m. Band memorabilia is to be displayed and Kauffman is searching for items that alumni may have whether it be old school instruments or pictures.

Tickets are required for the banquet and the May 20 concert.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call Kauffman at (301) 689-3379 or e-mail

Maria Smith can be reached at

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