Greater Huntington Symphonic Band and Jazz Band – La Tribune


Genre / Style: Community group / Jazz

Location: Huntington, West Virginia

How did the project get started? The group began in the 1980s as a way to provide a musical outlet for adults who could no longer participate in a group after high school and college. The group is made up of volunteer musicians who just want to continue playing their instruments with others. I, Matt Chaffins, took over conducting in 2018 replacing our longtime conductor, Tommy Thompson, who remains active with the band. The Jazz Band is led by Tom Chaffin (no connection to me) and was formed in 2016 to provide another outlet for our members who also enjoy playing jazz music.

What are the three adjectives to describe your style? Tell us about your creative process. Does it vary, if so, how? I know this won’t answer the question as expected, but the Greater Huntington Symphonic Band is open to all musicians from high school through adulthood. We rehearse on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the orchestra hall of Vinson Middle School. The jazz group usually rehearses from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

How has your art evolved since you started? School and community groups have changed a lot since the 1980s. We try to play a variety of music that follows these new trends, but also classical pieces that pay homage to the rich history of school and community groups in America.

What if being an artist filled your cup? Why should others care about the arts? My day job is to be the group principal at Chesapeake Middle School and High School. Being able to share my love of music and teaching students, whether school age or adult, to be better musicians, is what fills my cup. Others should be interested in the arts because the arts are a part of everything we do and use. I think the global pandemic has shown how important the arts are. Sadly, the arts are often seen as non-essential, but the arts have been lacking the most. People missed the live shows. Now that things are returning, people are turning to the arts for joy and solace.

Any advice for beginner or struggling artists? Keep doing what you are doing. If it makes you happy to create your art, then keep doing it. Life is too short and fleeting to get caught up in trying to make your art for others. Do it for yourself, your well-being and your soul.

What upcoming project should we look for and where can we look for it? The Greater Huntington Symphonic Band and Jazz Band typically hold three to four concerts per year. Our next concert will be in April or May. The date, time and location have not yet been set.

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Henry R. Wright