Meet The Band
Ann Babbitt (trumpet, french horn)
I joined the band about 4 years ago. I played french horn in high school and one year of college, then didn’t play much for years. I came back to it about eight years ago, then took up trumpet a few years ago.
I am retired from the medical field and enjoy some sports and outdoor projects. I love New Horizons and have attended several of their seminars, which have been very interesting. I like that they support senior and beginner musicians.
Rosanne Graef (percussion)
I play percussion - mostly bells. I joined as a Charter Member, in September, 2017.
I took piano and organ lessons from around age 7 until the end of high school. In 7th grade our school had a band that was started by Starbird Music. I played glockenspiel mostly, but some bass drum and timpani as well. I attended Gorham High School, which had a marching band that traveled all day on Memorial Day doing parades in the various sending towns. When I started playing concert bells instead of marching with the instrument, the most challenging change was playing with two hands! I have never studied music theory or history. The only music course I ever took was one semester of music appreciation in college.
Getting to play all sorts of instruments is the most fun part of percussion when you're older. It keeps you learning and really paying attention. However, it can also be kind of nerve-wracking at times since it seems we are so loud and making a mistake is really obvious.
I spent 5 years in the Air Force as a cryptologic linguist, stationed most of the time in West Berlin, Germany. I really enjoy languages - foreign and English, too. Most of my professional career was spent as a middle school teacher of science, math and computer applications. I graduated from Hofstra University and went to graduate school at the University of Maine. Aside from playing percussion I like gardening, our 5 cats, sewing and knitting when I'm in the mood, and reading, mostly non-fiction.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of New Horizons is meeting and getting to know people who have interests in common to talk about and do together.
Diane Whitmore (tenor sax)
I'm currently playing tenor sax with New Horizons. In the past I have played percussion with the group and bass clarinet with the group's Clarinet Ensemble. I also play clarinet and alto sax, and am a singer and guitarist. I am one of the charter members of the band, having been with the band from the beginning.
I was a singer from a young age and took up clarinet in the fifth grade. I added saxophones in high school, bass clarinet in college, and guitar a few years ago. I took advantage of the founding of the Southern Maine New Horizons Band to learn percussion, which was something I had wanted to try for a long time.
I am in my 35th year as a public school teacher of French and have taught Italian, Latin and Spanish as well. I retired in 2019, was a substitute teacher until the onset of the pandemic, and recently returned to the classroom to have a purpose during the pandemic and to help out in light of the teacher shortage. I plan to return to retirement and substitute teaching at the end of the current school year.
I have enjoyed the friendships I've made and the opportunity to learn a new family of instruments I was interested in. I have attended the New England Adult Music Camp twice, and have truly enjoyed the opportunity to immerse myself in music performance for a week in late summer in a beautiful lakeside Maine setting.
Jim Belanger (clarinet)
I joined in January, 2018. I learned to play clarinet in 5th grade and played through high school. I operate a family-run payroll service based in Portland.
Len Guralnick (clarinet)
I play clarinet and a little guitar. I started with SMNHB in 2019.
I used to play guitar and sing in bluegrass bands in my twenties and early thirties.
My clarinet education started with primary and middle school bands. After a 53 year break, I picked it up again with SMNHB. I never considered that I would play clarinet again until my friend Robert (our tuba player), told me about New Horizons. A new world has opened up for me. I am so grateful.
Larry Rapaport (Trumpet)
I'm a newbie with the band, having recently moved here from New York.
I began playing trumpet in high school . When I taught middle school I rehearsed and played with the students. As a retiree, I played with the American Legion and Police Auxiliary, 2 community college concert bands, a Tito Puente band and a church musical theatre group. With limited opportunities recently, I hope to get back in shape.
I've been a middle school reading, English, and science teacher with computer technology thrown is as well. I've tried my hand at classical guitar with limited success and I love classical music and jazz.
I found a warm welcome at New Horizons and want to contribute to the musical life here.
Bill Briggs (clarinet)
I play the B-flat Clarinet. I joined the band in August of 2019. I was a total newbie to clarinet, having started playing just 4 months before.
I'd thought about learning clarinet ever since I fell in love with Dixieland and jazz clarinet four decades ago. I started learning to play clarinet in May 2019, right before I retired. I joined the band about four months later. I felt totally over my head at first, but it was fun also, and it helped me progress much faster on clarinet. I played piano as a kid, and later flute, so I knew how to read music already, which helped. Learning the clarinet has been a challenge, but I love it. And, making music with other people is so much more fun.
I was very much a beginner clarinet player when I joined the band, but felt very welcomed, encouraged, and supported. Playing with the band has helped me grow so much in my musical abilities, plus it’s really fun. Rehearsal has become one of the highlights of my week.
Christephor Gilbert (flute)
I play Flute, Piccolo, and Piano. I joined the band in January or February of 2020.
I have played the flute since 4th grade, and the piano since I was 6 years old! As the story goes, my older brother was taking piano lessons at the time. After listening to him play for a while, and after he got up from the piano bench, I sat down and started playing from ear what he had been rehearsing.
By the time I got to high school, I was seriously studying both instruments (private lessons, theory classes in a preparatory program through the University of Louisville in Kentucky (where I was born and raised), band camp, band and orchestra, solo and ensemble competitions. However, right before my junior year I had to choose (a time and money decision) and switched to focus on piano exclusively.
I went to college intending to major in piano performance, but switched to theatre and dance once I realized that the music program wouldn’t offer the performance experiences I hoped to have (and I was drawn more to acting and choreography than music). I continued to play in a small ensemble, and would often end up playing flute or recorder in various drama productions. I even learned the clarinet for one show!
From that point on, music was ancillary to my other performing (yet my piano skill and ability to read music came in hand when choreographing to classical music or working on musical theatre productions). Once I became a member of a Lutheran congregation in Louisville, I began to play both flute and piano more regularly as part of our service music.
For the majority of my working life I was employed in various positions with professional and community theatre and dance companies, and ran my own dance theatre ensemble, Jan Street Dance Theatre, from 2007-2010. At the same time (because performing arts, especially dance, are hard to make a living at) I worked in retail management for various companies including Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, the Gap, Barnes & Noble, and Bloomingdales. In 2009 I transitioned into non-profit arts management working for the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. In 2015 I discerned a call to professional ministry and returned to school earning a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. In the fall of 2019 I accepted a call to serve as pastor of St. Ansgar Lutheran Church in Portland.
I have been delighted to return both to flute and to ensemble music performance with New Horizons. The joy of playing was not just in honing my skill: for me, music comes alive in community. I appreciate the open and affirming way that New Horizons rehearsals unfold, and how making music (rhythm, dynamics, mood/feel) is taught and reinforced. Having a broad repertoire to work on, paired with the positive reinforcement from Nina and members of the band, was key to igniting my reinvestment in flute performance (including some private lessons and a new flute). I’m getting better every week and enjoying the process!!
Judith McKernan (flute & sometimes percussion)
I joined a couple of years ago.
I’ve participated in band camp and taken occasional lessons. I’m a former French teacher. I love playing music with other people. I’m SO happy that Nina started New Horizons in Maine.
Peter Woodrow (clarinet)
I joined the band in 2018.
Before joining New Horizons, I mostly sang in choirs and musicals since high school. I also play guitar (badly).
I’m a retired non-profit administrator and researcher in peace / conflict / development / humanitarian assistance nexus. I continue some consulting and volunteer board service. One thing I like about being in the band is that it’s wonderful to have others to play with.
Robert Pantel (tuba)
I play Tuba & Euphonium (Bass Clef). I started playing with the band in the Spring session of 2018.
In the 1960’s I played trumpet in the Fallsburg Central (NY) Junior High Band. I played Euphonium in the Fallsburg Central (NY) High School Symphonic Band. In the 1980’s & 1990’s I played Euphonium in the Lyme (NH) Town Band and the Mad Bavarian Brass Band, and performed in amateur musical theater, including Fiorello, in Pottstown, PA and The Country Revels in Lyme, NH. Other than some instrumental lessons in public school, I have no musical education.
My professional/work background is in Civil, Structural, Environmental, & Marine Engineering, and Land Surveying. I am also a Journeyman Electrician.
Other interests include: Volunteer Monitor Skipper for Maine Island Trail Association, Search Team Member with Pine Tree Search & Rescue; Trail work Leader for the Maine Chapter Appalachian Mountain Club; Motorcycling; Hiking, Skiing, Hunting, & Fly Fishing.
Playing instrumental music with our Southern Maine New Horizons Band has enriched my life through the enjoyment of playing in a group and led to me meeting some very dear new friends. It has spurred me to attend three sessions of New England Adult Music Camp here in Maine and to play in the Maine Bicentennial Parade Marching Band. I also recently broadened my musical scope and increased the fun by taking up the tuba!