PLAINS TWP. — Horns, pipes and drums welcomed Matthew Nogin, 12, into adulthood Sunday.
Nogin, of Kingston, celebrated his bar mitzvah at the Woodlands Inn & Resort. The Jewish ceremony marks a boy’s entry into manhood, and the Wyoming Valley West Spartan Marching Band was there to parade him across the threshold.
When Jody Nogin, Matthew’s mother, was planning her son’s music-themed bar mitzvah, she approached Wyoming Valley West High School Band Director Andy Kolojejchick about having Matthew’s future band mates play a few songs during the party.
Nogin is a committed bass clarinet player who aspires to join the Valley West band when he enters ninth grade next year.
About 50 musicians volunteered wholeheartedly, Jody Nogin said.
Kolojejchick said he was pleased to find so many students willing to suit up on a Sunday afternoon to play.
“The biggest thing for us is that Matthew found the band so excited to play,” he said.
Kolojejchick assembled the band students, decked out in full uniform, in an unoccupied Evolution Night Club on the other side of the hotel. The musicians fiddled with their instruments, warming up for the crowd that waited in the ballroom.
Kolojejchick, or Mr. K, said there was an entertainment aspect to the band’s short performance. The band, which plays for football games and school events, has a repertoire of songs it knows can get the crowd going.
But he hoped to inspire other students to get involved with music. Getting the band’s musicians up close to younger children could spark curiosity they normally wouldn’t feel just listening to the band play from an orchestra pit or in a stadium’s band section, Kolojejchick said.
Drum major Ross Lesoine, a senior, said performances such as Sunday’s are a way to give back to the community.
“I like to think of this as a public outreach,” Lesoine said. He stood next to tuba player and fellow senior Chris Bloom. The two four-year veterans agreed that in all of their performances, they had never known the musicians to play for a bar mitzvah.
Lesoine took command of the room as he conducted the players crowding around the dance floor. During a chorus break in the band’s second number, Lesoine spun around to face the rest of the room and roused the partiers to sing and clap along.
Nogin, who had led the trumpeting troupe into the ballroom, stood beside Lesoine as an honorary drum major.
Nogin said he has played the bass clarinet for about 2 1/2 years. He plays for the Wyoming Valley West Middle School Honors Orchestra and the Luzerne County Honors Band.
He practices for about an hour and a half each day, he said, and hopes playing the bass clarinet will stay with him for the rest of his life.
“I just liked the way it sounds,” Nogin said. “I really can’t put it into words.”