It might seem that the Columbus City Band’s leader is as prophetic as he is musical.

But Seymour resident and ensemble director Steve McGrew laughs about the fact that the tune “National Emblem” features various segments of the national anthem — a hot topic around the National Football League — for the band’s free season opener fall performance at 2 p.m. Sunday at The Commons.

His confession: He cannot take credit for the timeliness since he selects songs about six months beforehand. But he acknowledged that he may draw the audience’s attention to the unmistakable paraphrase of “The Star Spangled Banner” before his 55-member volunteer group launches into the piece.

“It’s pretty straightforward (in its similarity),” McGrew said. “But there are other melodies going on at the same time.”

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The band is known for its eclectic offerings at concerts that attract 400 to 500 people to hear musicians, many of them professionals in other ensembles, hailing from areas ranging from Brownstown to Columbus to Indianapolis. In keeping with tradition, the band still aims to include elements of each season in most concerts.

In Sunday’s 10-song performance, McGrew mentioned that listeners probably can most clearly link with autumnal imagery — think Brown County State Park, perhaps — in the work, “Michel Legrand in Concert” near the end of the afternoon. The woodwinds and flutes in the piece play a pattern reminiscent of Roger Williams’ song, “Autumn Leaves.”

Other numbers on the weekend program also echo other classic pieces, including “Clouds That Sail in Heaven,” a fanfare based on the hymn “All Creatures of Our God and King.” Short strands of the famous melody pop up in the work.

“It’s an exciting piece — and faster than greased lightning,” McGrew said.

A nice contrast, perhaps, to fall’s slow and delicate trek toward winter.

The colors of fall

Who: The Columbus City Band in its fall concert and season opener.

When: 2 p.m. Sunday.

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.

Admission: Free due to a range of grants, including help from the Columbus Area Arts Council through the Indiana Arts Commission.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.