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5 Questions for Ron Evans
0528HOME-Five-Evans
Ron Evans is the director of the Northwinds Symphonic Band, which plays the annual Memorial Day concert in Gainesville.

About Ron Evans

Age: 71
Hometown: Arp, a small village near Fitzgerald in the middle of south Georgia with about 27 people and one railroad that passes through
Length of time in Gainesville: 50 years
Education: Bachelor’s of music from the University of Georgia; master’s of music education from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago; specialist in education degree from Troy University
Occupation: Music education teacher (band director, choral director at South Hall, Johnson, Gainesville and Shiloh high schools)
Most interesting job: By far, teaching students how to enjoy life through the appreciation and love of great music.
Family information: Born on a farm in South Georgia; married to Karyl (Arn) Evans of Albany, two daughters, Kelli Evans Bolin of Austin, Texas, and Shana Evans Bassett of Atlanta. Five grandchildren, and one more on the way.

Each Monday, “5 Questions” asks someone in our community to answer five questions about their lives. If you know someone who would be a good subject for this feature, send their name and contact information to askthetimes@gainesvilletimes.com.

“Duty, Honor, Country”

Northwinds Symphonic Band concert
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: First Baptist Church, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville
How much: Free
For more information: www.northwindsband.com

Twenty-eight years ago, Ron Evans and his wife got the idea of starting a community band. Today, the Northwinds Symphonic Band has played concerts all over North Georgia and has taken two tours around the state. But perhaps the band’s most meaningful performance is the annual Memorial Day concert. Today The Times asks Evans five questions about the patriotic performance.

1. How did the annual Memorial Day concert come about?

The Northwinds Symphonic Band was looking for an exciting concert to end our season. We were told that Memorial Day would not be a good time to present the concert because of so many people in the area are either on vacation or on the lake enjoying the holiday.

It was decided to throw caution to the wind and try the Memorial Day anyway. The First Baptist Church was available on that day. After the dress rehearsal at the church, the band dismissed and went to the fellowship hall for dinner. After dinner, we assembled in the sanctuary and found the sanctuary packed with people gathered to hear the concert. The band has been presenting these concerts for the last seven years and have managed to attract hundreds of visitors from throughout the Northeast Georgia area.

2. What’s your favorite patriotic song and why?

I never served in the military, but I have always been a true patriot. Many of my high school band halftime shows were of a patriotic nature. My favorite patriotic song is basically the one that we’re playing at a particular time, so I have so many favorites.

The band has always received great response from “America, The Beautiful,” with a narration which begins “I was born on the Fourth of July, 1776. The Declaration of Independence is my birth certificate. I am over 300 million souls, and the ghosts of millions who have lived and died for me. ...”

3. If you gauged patriotism by the attendance at Memorial Day concerts, how has the Gainesville community’s patriotism changed over the years?

After the Vietnam War, our veterans were not welcomed back to the country with pride, celebration and parades. But over the last few years, the attitude has changed. The Northwinds Band’s tribute to the Armed Forces has a part of the introduction that reads, ”There have been years we seemed to have lost the idea of welcoming our veterans home with pride and celebration. But not today! Today we pay tribute to our Armed Forces with a special musical salute!”

The composition continues as members of each branch of their service is asked to stand as their service song is presented. It is one of our favorite traditions of the Memorial Day concert.

4. The Memorial Day concert is one in which you are particularly proud. Why does the particular event hold such meaning for you?

When I see our veterans march in a circle around the First Baptist Church on Memorial Day as the band plays “Americans We,” I get tears in my eyes as the younger service members march with great stride and the older vets who possess canes, walkers and wheelchairs proudly make their way around the circle just to let everyone know they still can and will do with every ounce of their being. It’s a feeling of pride that gets me going emotionally.

5. What has been the most rewarding part of directing the Northwinds Symphonic Band?

When I first started the band in 1984, it was a dream my wife and I had as we played the “what if” game. We wondered “what if” we started a band of band directors to play community concerts throughout the area. The first rehearsals and concerts in 1985 let us know that we were going to be a force that would have to be reckoned with in the future. We’re in our 28th year of performing concerts throughout the North Georgia area, and have played two concert tours throughout the state with our “Tribute to John Philip Sousa” program.

The most rewarding part of directing this band has been the fact that no one is paid for their services; not the members nor the conductor. It is something we do as musicians because it is our passion and we love to do it.

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