This month the member spotlight is on Bill Steadman, a charter member of the Peachtree Wind Ensemble, formerly the Peachtree City Concert Band. Bill has been surrounded by music all his life: making it, listening to it, and teaching it.
Bill’s musical heritage includes a mother who was a band and choral director with a master’s degree in organ performance, and his paternal grandmother, who was head of the school of music at the University of Pennsylvania, Mansfield campus. In that bucolic setting, the performing arts center is dedicated to her.
In elementary school, Bill performed in several operettas directed by his Grandmother and Mother. Although he started playing the clarinet as a fourth-grader, after one semester he was switched to the trombone. That summer, however, after his father’s untimely death, the family moved from a farm to a house in town where they found an old baritone and a snare drum in a closet under the stairs. His mother paid the previous owner $10 for both, and Bill quickly began playing the baritone while his younger brother, Jack, played the drum. Bill played that horn through high school and at the University of Wisconsin.
For many years, Bill’s love of music took a backseat to the usual demands of working and raising a family. Having put his baritone away for several decades, Bill started playing again after moving to Peachtree City with his wife, Susan, a professional writer and director, and two children, Jeremy and Paige, who had shown early musical talent and already played a number of instruments. Bill joined the PWE in 1992, bringing Jeremy with him to band rehearsals. A believer in the healing powers of music, Bill was sure that engaging in music with others would aid in Jeremy’s recovery from a nearly fatal accident that occurred while on a McIntosh High School band trip.
Since then, Bill has played numerous instruments in the PWE. In addition to the “antique” baritone, he’s spent time with the trumpet, trombone, F-horn and tuba. “I guess I can call myself the ‘utility brass player,’” he laughs. These days, after three years on tuba, he is back to his favorite, the baritone, as well as a newer four-valve euphonium.
Over the past twenty years, Bill has served on the PWE Board of Directors, and for a long time he wrote the press releases, made the flyers, kept the roster, took the pictures, and secured grants to fund performances such as the joint concert in the “Fred” combining the PWE, the Peach State Symphony, and the Music Machine, a vocal group,.
He has also performed in a brass quintet, and performed solos and duets at “Stars on the Southern Cresent” coffee house. Among his fondest memories are the combined concerts with the South Metro Concert Band, and performing a Bellstadt solo, “Napoli,” for his mothers 95th birthday celebration/family reunion.
Bill, Jeremy and Paige have all provided musical accompaniment for a number of plays directed by Susan and presented by Offshoot Productions, a professional theatre headquartered in Fayette County for sixteen years. Paige composed music for many of Susan’s shows, and has now spread her wings and is composing and playing for a number of Atlanta theatre companies. Jeremy, working in Columbus, GA, has joined a community band in that area.
Recently retired, Bill stays active playing his euphonium, and making and playing mountain dulcimers. “I make ten to twelve instruments per year,” he reports. “I play in two dulcimer groups, and enjoy teaching beginners to discover that they can easily learn to make music on this graceful instrument.”