Friday, July 25, 2008

A Tradition in Racine

While I've mentioned the Racine Concert Band in a number of posts, I never did get into their history, which is very impressive. Best to do that now!

The roots of the band go back to the 1870's. The Schulte brothers began providing music in the park for Racine residents. In 1923, Henry Schulte approached the city council for funds for an official city band. And so, the Racine Park Board Band was born. For 44 years, it provided over 300 free concerts for Racine residents. Pretty successful by today's standards!

In 1967, the band, then under director John Opferkuch, changed the name to the Racine Municipal Band, which was affectionately called the "muni band" by members. The band also expanded the schedule to include a year-round concert schedule.

The band received a very special award in 1995. The John Philip Sousa Foundation awarded the band the Sudler Silver Scroll. This award is given only to those community bands that demonstrate excellence in musical performance and a strong community presence. In all the years that the Sousa Foundation has been awarding the Scroll, only 34 community bands have received it, even though tens of thousands of bands are eligible. The Racine band was the 10th group to receive the Scroll.

In 1996, the name was changed to the Racine Concert Band, to better describe the group's music and community support.

In 2002, Mark Eichner was appointed Music Director, being only the fifth director of the group since the first official band in 1923. And just this past July 4th, the band performed its 1400th free concert for the residents of Racine. Quite the history indeed!

And as long as we're on the topic of the Racine Concert Band, here's their schedule for the rest of the summer. All the concerts are at the Racine Zoo and begin at 7:30. Admission to the zoo for the concert is free.

Sunday July 27 - Children's concert
Sunday August 3 - Featuring Baritone Gregory Berg
Sunday August 10 - Featuring Rick Sunier on Euphonium
Sunday August 17 - Featuring Soprano Jeanie Hatfield
Sunday August 24 - Featuring Mezzo Soprano Allison Hull and Mark Eichner on Trumpet

I'll be at most of them. Hope to see you there.

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