The Williamsport Area High Schools Millionaire Strolling Strings will celebrate its 25th anniversary Saturday by inviting alumni, former directors and community members to take part in a reunion concert at the Community Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
"It's been great," said Matthew Radspinner, director, on planning the celebration. "If you live in this area, it seems like the strolling strings have been around forever."
The group was formed by Walt Straiton and fashioned from the U.S. Air Force Strolling Strings. The group of students plays a variety of string instruments while walking throughout their venue. The group of musicians have played at dinners, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and NASCAR events.
The Williamsport Area High School Millionaire Strolling Strings perform at a recent event. The group will celebrate its 25th anniversary Saturday during a reunion concert. About 50 alumni from the group are expected to return and play with the current members.
"It's violins, violas and cellos walking around from table to table or person to person," Radspinner said.
Radspinner said the technique allows the group to have their sound heard from every angle and "to cover a whole room."
"There's always something different for (the audience) to look at," Radspinner said. " ... I think it's neat to hear someone within two or three feet playing music."
It's the group's diversity that allows it to be so successful, Radspinner said. The students play for audiences comprised of children, senior citizens and everyone in between. Since there is such different audience members, Radspinner said they play anything from classical pieces to rock n' roll songs.
"I'm proud of the kids because we can play at the country club one night and the Hughesville fair the next," he said.
Memorizing about 45 minutes of music, is the kind of work and determination that has allowed the group to become one of the more well-known strolling strings in the state, according to Radspinner.
And although some do struggle with memorization, Radspinner said once the musicians learn it, musical selections often don't change in their four years.
Although the group usually has a recorded track of background music that accompanies the strings, Saturday's concert will feature a live band of local musicians.
"What the people are hearing is a completely local performance," Radspinner said.
During the anniversary performance, the current crop of musicians will be joined by about 50 alumni, along with Straiton and another former director Jeff Tedford. And Radspinner won't only be at the celebration as the current director but a former musician of the group.
"It's a thrill," he said, "because it's a group that meant a lot to me as a kid. We all latch onto something (during high school) ... and this was something for me to latch onto."
Radspinner assures those coming Saturday that they will not only see a musical performance but will get a history lesson. The three directors will be speaking about the group and showing photos from throughout the 25 years.
"It'll be a little bit of history. You can come not knowing anything about the strolling strings and leave knowing everything," he said.
Radspinner hopes to make a stage concert a tradition that will happen every two years, but said Saturday is sure to "jumpstart (the group) into the next 25 years."
And Radspinner promises a great show for all who attend.
"The audience is going to get real high quality show for $5," Radspinner said.