Article by Rod King
Edited by Isaac Embree
Flutist Bobby Patterson, known for her piercing Phantom of the Opera scream, is one of just seven remaining active charter members in the band. She wasn’t at the first rehearsal in Neff Hall in November 1978 but heard about it from someone who attended and made sure she was there the second week. Her name is on the charter and she’s been a stalwart member ever since.
Bobby not only looks forward to Tuesday’s rehearsals and the concerts, but the socializing, as well. She and eight to ten other band members, including her percussionist husband, Kenton, stop at a different restaurant after practice every week. “Not that we’re superstitious,” she said, “but we went to Cheddars three weeks in a row and it burned down.”
“Kenton would have been a charter member, too, except he volunteered to stay home with our two children, Joann and Josh, who were five years old and six months old at the time. Then, his work schedule kept him away, except for a few concert performances when we were short on percussionists. He returned to the band full time a couple years ago.”
Bobby’s first foray into music came at five years of age when she began playing the organ. In the fifth grade, she took up flute because she desperately wanted to be in the marching band, where her sister was a baton twirler. “I couldn’t throw or catch a baton to save myself, so flute was my way into marching band. I also played in the concert band and sang in the school choir.
“I also played for a number of years in the Three Rivers Fife and Drum Corps, which was founded in 1976. We marched in area parades and participated in the Stone’s Trace Festival and a muster at Greenfield Village in Detroit. The only difference between playing a fife and a flute is you have to blow harder on a fife.
“It’s great that so many talented young people are joining the band. They’ve helped raise the performance level of the band and made it possible for us to tackle more challenging music.”