I Wanted to Be in That Band!
Meet Mary Lowry, Sequim City Band Tenor Saxophonist
“Music has been important to me since I was five when I started piano lessons. By the time I was in fifth grade, I wanted to branch out,” Mary Lowry remembers.
Exploring in the attic of her Porter, Indiana, childhood home, she found a treasure trove of musical instruments that belonged to her mother under a rollaway bed: a trombone, a Hawaiian guitar, and a saxophone.
Being Mary, she tried each instrument. The trombone made her lips tingle. She couldn’t coax the clarity of notes on the guitar that she could on a piano. Then she tried the saxophone.
“It was shiny. The buttons had mother-of-pearl inlays. I felt like Goldilocks finding Baby Bear’s porridge. It was just right! I fell in love with it.”
When Marcel Mule, the famous classical saxophonist came to Elkhart, Indiana, Mary’s mother drove her to the concert. She saw and heard musical excellence. That sealed the deal for Mary. She committed herself to strive for that excellence on the saxophone.
“Plus,” she said, “it was unusual for a girl to play saxophone!”
She played in the bands and dance bands when she was in high school, and then, in the symphonic band at the University of Washington. Except for brief stints when she taught science to junior and senior high school Air Force dependents in Goose Bay, Labrador, and a few years in Wales, Mary has played in bands and small groups throughout her life.
In 2013, when she lived in Renton and played in its band, she met Nick Elliott from Sequim. Love would conquer all—as long as there was a band in Sequim. He took it upon himself to look into Sequim’s musical culture, then took her to a dance band concert at the Casino and to hear the Sequim City Band at Sequim High School.
“I wouldn’t have gone anywhere they didn’t have a band” Mary said. “After attending the Sequim City Band concert, I decided—I wanted to be in that band, so it was okay to move.”
She spoke with Tyler Benedict, the band’s conductor, and musical director, and once again, music sealed the deal in Mary’s life. Thus we are graced with Mary’s playing tenor saxophone in the band as well as serving on the Board as vice-president.
“Tyler is a great director,” Mary says. “He has a wonderful sense of humor and challenges people to play more technical music. I am astonished at the amount of talent we have here in Sequim. I have never seen audience sizes like we have coming to the concerts in Carrie Blake Park.”
Mary believes that music bonds a community gives it a common cause. It transports people out of their everyday routine and into a place where they feel good without putting a reason to it, experiencing emotions that they might not otherwise feel.
During this pandemic, she has missed the comradery of making music with fellow musicians, whether it’s in rehearsals or playing to an audience. She’s looking forward to playing to audiences again.
“Music is so important,” Mary says. “People getting together to express themselves and sharing it with an audience—it lifts everyone’s spirits. We’ve seen what the world would be like without live music this past year. I yearn for the day the world can open up to live music again, where people can bond through the magic of music. It will happen.”
Mary’s musical taste is eclectic, everything from jazz to classical to opera. Like so many musicians she had many mentors along the way, including teachers and professors. But without question, her most ardent supporters and mentors were her piano teacher, Ethel Anderson, who expected total excellence and was sad when Mary took up the saxophone, and her mother, Evelyn Lowry, who supported everything musical and attended every band performance.