David Schwartz and Andrew Yatsuhashi have more than 50 years of trombone experience separating them, yet the two play in the same section of the Harvard Summer Pops Band and will share the stage as equals at both its summer concerts
It is, in fact, that diversity, that mix of ages, skill levels, and experience, which makes the group such a draw for the area’s brass, woodwind, and percussion players — and for its audience. Performers play side by side, whether they’ve been at it for 66 years, like Schwartz, a retired investment banker, or more like 10 in the case of Yatsuhashi, a sophomore at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
That and a shared authentic passion for music. This year, like the past 47, all of that is the same.
“The people are from all different walks of life,” said flutist Helen Bryant. “On one side is someone who’s played for 25 years and on the other is one of the [Harvard] Summer School students. … You look around and the age span is from little kids all the way up to much older people, but everyone is really committed to it. … You just don’t get to meet that diversity of people on a regular basis when you go off to work every day and just do your job.”
For the Cambridge-resident —who joined the 150-musician band with her son, Lewis — it’s all about rediscovering a beloved hobby. Bryant is coming off a 17-year hiatus that started when Lewis was born. Prior to that, she had been playing for almost 35 years. “I’ve always had music in my life,” she said. “It was a rite of passage [in my family].”
Lewis, a trombone player with the band the past few summers, gave his mother the push she needed to take up the woodwind instrument again. Now, despite being “beyond a little rusty,” Bryant, an associate justice for the Suffolk County Juvenile Court, has found her place among the motley crew.
Jill Smith is another longtime Cambridge resident in the group. She’s also one of the steadiest members in the French horn section.