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Guilderland Town Band kicks off season

For those who missed child prodigy Geoffrey Gallante's performance with the Guilderland Town Band last year, a second chance will come Thursday, June 28.

Gallante, a 6-year-old trumpet player from the Washington, D.C., area, will play a solo at the band's opening concert titled, Young People's Night at the Movies.

The event will feature music from "Harry Potter," "Mary Poppins" and "The Wizard of Oz" films in an effort to attract young listeners.

"We try to appeal to children and give them that lifelong love of music," said Meghan Barrow, co-president of the band's board of directors and a French horn player.

A big star, with appearances on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and CBS's "The Early Show," Gallante has a special connection to Guilderland.

Guilderland's conductor, Kathleen Richards Ehlinger, first met the young musician at a George Mason University concert in Virginia, where, as Ehlinger puts it, she "became his surrogate mom." The two have kept in touch since, and both look forward to Gallante's return to the area.

"I like how she cues me," Gallante said of Ehlinger's conducting. The first-grader said he enjoys being onstage and is not afraid to play in front of large crowds.

"We were talking about how kids can get involved at a young age," said Barrow, of Ballston Lake. "He's been blessed with a very natural talent."

A child in the audience will also have the opportunity to go onstage with a drawing to select a guest "conductor." The winner will take Ehlinger's place and lead the band as it plays a march later in the evening.

"I've always wanted to connect the community with the young people," said Ehlinger, who also directs the Guilderland High School band. "This is my way of trying to involve more young people."

In addition, the band will award a scholarship to Jeremy Bouteiller, of Guilderland, a saxophone player and band member of seven years who recently completed his junior year at SUNY Potsdam Crane School of Music.

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