Ohio University School of Music Director of Band Andrew Trachsel directs musicians involved in the Communiversity band performing during an Under the Elms concert. (Submitted)

Under The Elms Is a Lovely Place To Be On a Summer Evening

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Under the towering elms of College Green in June 1947 a tradition was born.

It was the third full week of June, and the Ohio University School of Music kicked off their first ever band clinic; a program that would eventually grow to become the beloved Under the Elms concerts that have been taking place on the College Green for the past 70 years.

According to Ohio University School of Music Director of Bands Andrew Trachsel, (who also serves as the current Under the Elms director,) the annual early summer concerts have been taking place every June with the exception of a number of gap years in the ‘70s following the tumultuous closing of the campus after the Kent State shootings.

Those who take part in the Under the Elms concerts are a part of a “Communiversity” band, which, as its name suggests, includes musicians from the university as well as the larger Athens community.

“One of the School of Music faculty who started up Under the Elms again in the late ‘70s actually still lives in town, and he occasionally guest conducts,” said Trachsel. “There are some people who have attended our concerts since the ‘60s and ‘70s, and it’s great to see them in the front row. It’s been fun to inherit the tradition.”

A vintage photo of an Under the Elms performance. (Submitted)
A vintage photo of an Under the Elms performance. (Submitted)

Taking part in the concerts not only gives hobby musicians a chance to warm up their skills for five weeks a year, it also grants students a chance to gain some college credit, regardless of whether they’re considering an undergraduate or graduate degree.

“The university does a lot to support Under the Elms. Every year we have a couple of guest artists who perform with us and the university provides for that. We also have a small staff who helps me run it – and it’s an amazing opportunity to get some university credit,” said Trachsel. “Back when the state of Ohio required that all teachers have master’s degrees, many teachers would utilize this as their continuing education, but even now that that isn’t required, a lot of them still do it.”

This year’s Under the Elms concerts, which kicked off in late May, will continue throughout the month until the final patriotic installment, “Celebrate America,” on June 28.

“After our first concert, almost as soon as the last note rang out, a couple approached me and told me they were retirees to Athens from the D.C. area, and that (the Under the Elms series) is one of the reasons why they retired here,” said Trachsel. “It really is an example of a very community and university-supported Athenian tradition.”

The next Under the Elms performance will take place on June 14 at 7 p.m. on the College Green. The concert, “Anniversaries,” will feature guest performer Mitchell Spray, Cmd. Sgt. Maj. (retired) of the United States Army Band on trombone; as well as the OHIO Horn Studio and OHIO Summer Music Camp. The June 21 performance, “Trombone-Palooza,” will feature Lucas Rego Borges and Joe Brown on trombone.

“It’s important that people know that everyone is welcome at these concerts, and that it isn’t a formal affair,” said Trachsel. “People are encouraged to bring their pets and their children and a picnic and a lawn chair. College Green is a lovely place to be on a summer evening.”

Andrew Trachsel directs the Communiversity Band. (Submitted)
Andrew Trachsel directs the Communiversity Band. (Submitted)