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Air Force band to perform in Carnegie

| Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 10:30 p.m.

As a thank you to the community, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall on April 2 will host an open house featuring Carlynton student art, a U.S. Air Force jazz band and more.

The Carnegie library previously hosted an open house in October 2015 to show off its interior restoration.

“It was a big success. About 250 people came from far and wide,” Executive Director Margaret Forbes said.

This year's event will feature various exhibits as well as a performance from Rhythm in Blue — the Air Force Heritage of America Band's 18-piece jazz ensemble — in the music hall.

Forbes hopes to hold a yearly open house moving forward.

“The library's special relationship with its community makes me think we should do an open house with a special performance every year,” Forbes said. “All four branches of the U.S. armed services have several bands each. We could time the open house around their schedule.”

She said she's been looking for a memorable way to offer the facility's appreciation to the borough and the community, and she won't soon forget her reaction when she was contacted by Staff Sgt. Ryan Persaud, a bassist in the Heritage of America Band.

“I nearly fell over when Ryan called,” Forbes said. “I could not have conjured something as perfect as a military jazz band. Military musicians are world-class.”

Forbes touts the music hall as having “probably the best acoustics in southwestern Pennsylvania,” as well as historic character, an intimate setting and comfortable seats.

“It is very highly regarded in music circles,” Forbes said. “That said, so many audience members are discovering it for the first time. A band of Rhythm in Blue's caliber and appeal will attract a very diverse audience.”

That's what has Persaud so enthused about performing in Carnegie.

“When I walked into the hall, I felt excited,” he said. “It was a beautiful room and all I could think about was how good our band is going to sound in there.”

Activated in 1941, the Air Force Heritage of America Band is now composed of seven distinctive and distinguished ensembles. The musicians are stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Va., and perform more than 350 times annually.

From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. the open house will showcase the music hall as well as all three floors of the library.

Assistant Director Nate Wyrick will offer technological advice, with help from Carlynton students, as part of the school's Community Arts Extravaganza week.

Children's and youth services librarian Elizabeth Shedlock will host crafts and activities for children, artist Jeff Keenan will offer free caricatures in the Lincoln Gallery, and RLM Jazz will perform an ensemble in the studio.

“Everyone on staff loves what he or she does,” Forbes said. “We respond to need and opportunity, sometimes on a dime.”

Matthew Peaslee is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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