This page gives us an opportunity to introduce one of our members “up close and personal”. Our featured player this month is Rich Copeland, clarinet.
Rich was born in Philadelphia, lived in Germantown until age 5, then moved to Abington Township, where he lived for most of his life. Eight years ago he moved to Jamison, Bucks County with his wife Elaine.
“I started playing the clarinet in fourth grade at the North Hills School, which was torn down a long time ago. I ended up being lead clarinet in the high school band at Abington, and eventually ended up with a B.S. in Music Ed. from Temple, and a Master of Music from West Virginia, where I am extremely proud to say I marched in the Mountaineer Band for 2 seasons.
“My mother made all three siblings take piano lessons. Although I didn’t think so at the time, the piano lessons were a great benefit. I remember wanting to be in the band. Why clarinet? I remember being fascinated by Pete Fountain, who played clarinet on the Lawrence Welk show, which my parents watched faithfully every Saturday (yes, he was actually alive at one time!). Also, the school had clarinets available.”
Upon graduating, Rich could not find a music teaching job due to having no experience. He took a temporary job at Amtrak’s brand-new reservation office. That was 35 years ago, and he still is with the railroad today. “I left Amtrak Reservations long ago and have been working in 30th Street Station for the past 30 years. For the past 25 years, I have worked in a little office handling the money the train conductors collect from people who get on the train without buying a ticket first, and I love the job. The light at the end of the tunnel is retirement, not an oncoming train.”
“I am married to flute-player Elaine, who, after 8 years of marriage, finally got tired of hearing me talk about how much fun the MCCB rehearsals are (compared to some other groups we are in) and has started coming with me. Elaine is a music teacher at Central Bucks – one of the few who gets to stay 5 days a week at the same school – and a top-notch pianist.
“I joined MCCB in May of 1995, about a month after the band started. There was reluctance to drive ‘all the way out to Hatfield’ for rehearsals, but I loved the band the minute I joined and have been driving out to Hatfield most of the Tuesdays for the past 14 years. I also play in the Tri-County Band in Feasterville, occasionally fill short-term vacancies in other groups, and never miss the twice-yearly playing sessions of Windjammers Unlimited, a circus-music organization.”
Rich has put his musical knowledge to good use by participating and performing most of his life. His enthusiasm for playing has made him a valuable asset, providing quality playing for MCCB many other musical organizations.