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Clayton Community Band to play on following resignation of its founder


CLAYTON — The interim conductor of the Clayton Community Band has a good vibe about the band, but he admits being a bit nervous about his new role.

“I’m a little apprehensive but excited at the same time,” said Richard Badour, one of the founding members of the Clayton Community Band, which was created 10 years ago by Gloria Hvizdos Musser. “I’m looking forward to working with the group. They are a great bunch of people.”

Mrs. Musser announced in January that she had resigned as director. In a letter to the Times, she said her retirement would allow her to spend more time with her brother, who is her only surviving immediate family member. Her letter said she “fulfilled a dream to develop a community band that would rival any community band in the United States.”

The resignation caught many band members by surprise. At a band meeting a few days after learning of the resignation, members thanked Mrs. Musser. A statement released by a band spokesman after the meeting said Mrs. Musser and two close associates built and closely managed the band.

“She has led our organization for many years and provided us with a great foundation on which we may continue providing quality entertainment as the resident ensemble at the Clayton Opera House,” the statement said.

“We certainly owe Gloria a debt of gratitude for all her hard work and dedication in creating a band the north country has been proud of and for helping our members become better musicians,” Mr. Badour said.

Mr. Badour, Watertown, plays trumpet with the band and is a vocalist. He teaches instrumental music at Belleville Henderson Central School. His wife, Jackie, an instrumental music teacher in South Jefferson Central School District, plays clarinet in the Clayton Community Band. The couple’s daughter, Maresa, plays trumpet in the band. All three have been members of the institution since its inception.

The band averages about 50 members, but that number rises to approximately 60 in the summer when seasonal residents return to the area.

“Folks are really appreciative of the time we spend preparing concerts for them,” Mr. Badour said. “They take pride in having a band like the Clayton Community Band, which I feel is one of the best community bands in Northern New York, if not all of New York state.”

The band’s concerts, held at the Clayton Opera House, attract a dedicated following, Mr. Badour said. The band hosts five concerts a year.

“We have people come from all over Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties and even folks as far south as Pennsylvania will come up to hear our programs,” Mr. Badour said.

The interim conductor is in the process of selecting music for the band’s first two concerts of the season, which will be held in May and July.

The Clayton Community Band’s performances have supported local nonprofits such as Hospice of Jefferson County and other causes. For example, in 2006, it performed a benefit concert at St. Mary’s Catholic Church to raise funds to restore the church’s pipe organ.

Mr. Badour said he is filling in until another conductor can be found.

“I have not ruled out the possibility of becoming the band’s permanent conductor,” he said. “I’m just playing it by ear for the time being and trying to keep the band playing.”

Clayton village mayor Norma J. Zimmer said Mrs. Musser and the band she created greatly benefited the community.

“I’m extremely grateful to Gloria for the 10 years she has given to this community,” she said.

Mrs. Zimmer said that at first she was worried about the future of the band after learning of Mrs. Musser’s resignation.

“But people want to donate their time and energy to continue and that’s huge,” Mrs. Zimmer said. “It’s such an asset to the community. It’s something local people love and I’d hate to take that away from them.”

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