City Band to give 100th anniversary concert

\Alpena City Band caps off its 100th anniversary season this year with a celebration concert Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Bay View Park Bandshell.

“It’s been a great season. We’ve had great crowds. For the Children’s Concert it started raining, but we had a lot of people stay. Then when the rain stopped, many who had left came back,” said Bob Sullivan, manager of the band. “We’ve also had guest artists all season, so it’s been a great year.”

The band traces its roots back to 1918, when under the sponsorship of the City of Alpena, an Alpena Home Guard Band was created with 20 musicians. According to a 1983 article from The Alpena News, their initial duties involved escorting World War I recruits to the Alpena Depot and parading about on city streets wearing lighted miners’ caps. This gave way to a series of concerts and parade appearances.

Two years after first forming, the name changed to the Alpena Board of Commerce Band. By 1926, it became known by its current name, the Alpena City Band.

Alpena Mayor Matt Waligora will be on hand Thursday evening before the start of the concert, as will State Sen. Jim Stamas, who will present a proclamation from the governor in honor of the band’s milestone year. Stamas also plans to stop by the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan earlier in the day to see an exhibit detailing the band’s century-long history.

“The 100th anniversary celebration is going to be a big one,” Sullivan said. “We’re just praying there will be no rain. The last we looked, there was rain in the forecast. If it does rain, we go to Sunday at 4 p.m. because it’s an important celebration.”

Following acknowledgment of the band’s accomplishments by government officials, the band will play a number of songs, including “Trombone King,” “Gershwin Classics,” “Nathan Hale Trilogy,” “Monterey Bay” and Black Tower Overture.”

The crowning moment of the concert will come with the performance of a piece commissioned specifically for the 100th anniversary. Local musician and composer John Schubert wrote the new work, called “The Thunder Bay March.”

“It’s a real honor to have John write this for us,” Sullivan said. “He’s very active in the music scene and is a professional musician and composer. It’s a really nice piece of music.”

Sullivan said Schubert planned to work on the piece during the band’s Tuesday practice session, getting it ready for the public debut Thursday.

Besides the celebration concert, the band played nine other Thursdays during the summer months, marched in the 4th of July Parade and performed at the Brown Trout Festival in honor of Veteran’s Night.

“We’ve had really good numbers in the band. For the anniversary concert, we invited some members from the Rogers City Band to play for us,” said Sullivan, adding that Schubert currently serves as director of that band.

Joining in as well will be a number of alumni who haven’t played with the band in awhile. Additionally, former band member Jaimee Reynolds, currently a student at Julliard in New York City, will take the stage as well.

The band received numerous grants this year to help with its celebration season, including from Alpena County Youth and Recreation, Comstock Fund, Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan and Besser Foundation. Many local businesses also stepped forward with support.

“We had a lot of people sponsor us this year because of our anniversary, including lots of companies and businesses in town,” Sullivan said. “We’ve been really thankful for the support.”

Following the concert, the public is invited to stay around for cupcakes and other refreshments.