Medina Community Band – 1995 – 2009[1]

Concert 9 – Friday, July 31st, 2009

(as of July 20, 2009)


Friday, July 31st, 2009 - Medina Community Band will present the ninth and final season concert in their Sesquicentennial season on Friday, July 31st at 8:30p, on Medina Courthouse Square gazebo featuring music from 1995 through 2009. 

With the advent of weekly programs, the Medina Community Band Association (MCBA) and Neiman felt that solicitation of those who attended concerts would be an ideal means of supporting the continued financial growth of the Band.  A simple address tear-out was incorporated into the program with the request that it be mailed to the MCBA post office box.  In addition to receiving notification of the season concerts, fans were encouraged to help sponsor the Band’s season.  Contributions received by May 24th of each year were recognized beginning with the June summer program.  Contributions between May 25th and June 28th of each year were recognized beginning with the July summer program.

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A new program cover had been incorporated into the program (pictured at left).  Cartoonist Tom Batiuk, who resides in Medina and has been a long-time friend of Neiman and the band, consented to craft a cover for the summer band programs in 1998.  Batiuk had used the gazebo, the summer concerts, and even Neiman from time to time in his syndicated comic strips Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft.  World famous band director Harry L. Dinkle gave his summer band concerts in the gazebo as well as Neiman conducting MCB concerts.  Fortunately, the band concerts were not on the same night!  A new cover was crafted for the 150th celebration season as well.  It will begin to appear on the first concert of the 2009 summer season (pictured at right).

Donation levels are: program sponsorship (four who divided the cost of the year’s program printing); corporate sponsors ($250 and up) with five listed in the 2008 summer program; diamond patrons ($100 to $249) with 27 listed in the 2008 summer program; gold patrons ($50 to $99) with 52 listed in the 2008 summer program; silver patrons ($25 to $49) with 86 listed in the 2008 summer program; and, bronze patrons ($1 to $24) with 23 listed in the 2008 summer program.  Despite fluctuations in the economy, the patron list continued to grow through this era.

There were 51 patrons by the end of 1975 season for the Band.  That number grew to 160 by the 1995 season, and 197 by the 2008 season.  In addition, bequests and special recognitions were becoming popular with band patrons.  A growing number of the Band’s fans desired to recognize loved ones or achievements of family and friends through a contribution (or contributions) to the Band.  Those donations were either restricted (to be used for a specific purpose) or unrestricted (to be used for anything the MCBA treasurer deemed appropriate).  And, a growing number of Band members were contributing to the Band.  Indeed, the Band had come a long way from the years when the members would not play unless they were paid, to a volunteer ensemble who not only gave freely of their time, but also gave financially to the general operating support of the ensemble.

Little has really been written about the Medina Community Band Association (MCBA) other than their sponsorship of the Band.  This group has been the moral and financial supporter of the Band and deserves far more credit than they receive.  They take time to meet throughout the entire year to plan for ice cream social hosts, equipment storage and maintenance for band equipment, funding and promoting the Band’s efforts, and securing and contracting for the yearly performances and hall rentals. 

PhotobucketDuring this era, MCBA was headed by Donald Moore (pictured at left) as president, through the spring of 2008 when Tom Borror assumed the presidency. Karin Blazer serves as secretary, John and Jan Oberholtzer as treasurers, and Charles Freeman, Roy Lehman, and Don Moore as the board of directors, Neiman and Gail Sigmund represent the Band.

The instrumentation of the Band also continues to change.  Concerts during this era reflected the continued desire by the Band and Neiman to present concerts during the Fall, Winter, and Spring, as well as summer.  Indoor concerts could include the entire band instruments that reflected the different colors available to large concert bands.  By the 2008 season, the band boasted: 9 flutes (most of whom owned and played piccolo); 2 oboes (one of whom also owned and played English horn); 5 bassoons (one of whom owned and played a contrabass bassoon); 1 e-flat soprano clarinet; 18 b-flat soprano clarinets; 4 b-flat bass clarinets; 1 b-flat contrabass clarinet; 1 e-flat soprano saxophone; 4 e-flat alto saxophones; 2 b-flat tenor saxophones; 1 baritone saxophone; 5 horns; 13 cornets; 3 trumpets; 9 trombones; 6 euphoniums; 7 tubas; and, 4 percussion. Of the 95 individuals on the 2009 roster, about 10 missed the first two months of the year due to being involved either as directors or players in high school marching bands; another 10 were away at college and usually returned in May for the late spring and summer seasons. 

PhotobucketOf the 76 remaining on the active roster, it was not unusual to have as many as 10 to 15 people missing any rehearsal due to work, family responsibilities, vacations, or illness.  Band members attendance was considered about average with other community bands in the area.

In 1995, the MCB began an exchange program with the Kent Stark Concert Band in which one year the two bands each played half a concert in Medina and the next year played in the Stark campus concert hall. Their director, Dr. Patricia Grutzmacher (pictured at right), is director of instrumental music, Kent State University, Stark Campus. She and Neiman were undergraduate students together for four years at The University of Akron.

Activity type and frequency remained moderately constant from 1997 to 2009. One annual concert series was discontinued. The home and home joint concert with the Kent Stark Concert Band was ended at Dalton High School in March, 1998. After the first two years of this series, there seemed to be little interest among audiences at either venue.

Neiman was elected by the Ohio Music Education Association membership to serve as state president.  The office included two years, beginning July 1, 1996 through June 30, 1998, as president-elect; two years as state president, from July 1, 1998 through June 30th, 2000; and, July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2002, as state immediate past president. Demands of the office were felt by the band, but fortunately, band directors who were members of the Band (like Ed Lichtenberg, Vicki Smith, Amy McArtor, and Gail Sigmund) stepped up to the podium to conduct.  Jan Van Doren also assisted with the Medina Community Band Association and with numerous demands from that organization.


The John Philip Sousa Foundation annually recognizes community concert bands “of outstanding musical excellence” with the Sudler Silver Scroll Award, as well as an Historic Community Band Award (pictured above at County Administration Building auditorium). Each applicant for these awards must complete comprehensive files according to the award requirements. Included are bios of the current conductor, the MCB history, a compact disc recording of a live concert (February 23rd, 2000), letters of commendation from the music community and local Medinians, and a photo of the band (shown above), which was taken on stage in the Medina County Administration building. Mary K. Hanes and Jan Van Doren devoted long hours to obtaining and presenting the materials in a large loose-leaf notebook (now housed in the Medina County Historical Society collection) - to no avail. One of the awards that year went to the Allentown Community Band, which now consists primarily of professional musicians and has been around since 1828.

PhotobucketDuring the summer of 2001 Dr. Robert Bayless (pictured at right), former Wooster High School (OH) band director, gave Neiman a library of music containing over 1500 pieces of music, 1000 or so being complete and not duplicates of music already available to the MCB. The collection belonged both to Robert Bayless and his father A. Jerd Bayless, former director of bands at Canton Lincoln High School (OH).  Many of the older titles were passed down from father to son over the years.  Robert was moving to Arizona to accept a teaching position at the college level and did not want to pay the expense of moving four large four-drawer filing cabinets that housed the music.  The collection was given to someone who was (1) conducting bands currently; (2) performing music of that style for their audiences; and, (3) would perform the music. Marcus and the MCB certainly qualified on all counts.

Neiman and Jan Van Doren are currently in the process of scanning not only the music that Bayless provided, but also many of the out-of-print marches in the library to disk as Adobe files.

PhotobucketIt was not uncommon for Neiman to receive calls and or visits from local residents who wanted the Band to have music that had been stored away in attics, garages, or basements.  Most often the music was turn of the century piano sheet music, but sometimes, it was actual band arrangements that could be added to the collection.  Neiman and North Royalton Community Band director Bill Park (pictured at left) also began to exchange music that was in the public domain.  In 2007, Park opened The Band Music PDF Project with a few volunteers to move the project forward. To date, over 300 pieces of music are on the site and can be downloaded for use by bands at no cost.  Large collections of music were provided by the family of Vaclav Klimek, Dana M. Bailey, Chester Nettower, and others for the Project.  This new source provided Neiman with a huge collection of marches from 1880 to 1930 that were still appropriate for performance by MCB and previously unavailable for use.  And, it saved the MCBA hundreds of dollars in music costs since the music was in the public domain and could be copied and shared without cost or infringement to copyright laws. Park also appeared a number of times as a guest conductor with MCB while Neiman guest conducted for Park’s North Royalton Community Band Reading Sessions and at rehearsals for Park.

PhotobucketThe Band was invited to perform at several new venues. The first was at the invitation of Dr. Howard Meeker (pictured at right), conductor of the Cleveland State University Wind Ensemble. Each year Dr. Meeker invites a community band from northern Ohio to perform a joint concert with his Wind Ensemble to show his students and others that there is band life after college. The concert was in October, 2001 in the Waetjen Auditorium on their campus.

Meeker appeared with MCB a number of times in the years to come as a guest conductor during inside concerts and as a guest conductor on the summer concert series in the gazebo.  Meeker was also instrumental in making the connections that allowed Neiman to make his historic trip to Moscow and Saratov, Russia in 2004.

PhotobucketA Veterans Concert, in conjunction with the City of Medina, St. Francis Xavier Church (2002 concert picture at left), and The First Christian Church of Medina, and Medina Community, was started following the tragic September 11th, 2001 attack on the United States.  The concert took place the Monday of Veterans Day.  The format of this concert took a much different approach than any past Band concert.  Various secular and sacred speakers presented short narrations and/or reflections between selections. The hour concert has grown from an audience of about 50 to close to 200 at present.

A holiday concert in mid-December became a tradition during this era.  Seasonal selections were offered to the community with occasional vocal and/or instrumental soloists.    

PhotobucketAnother relationship that formed during this era was with Dr. Gary Ciepluch and the Case Western Reserve University Bands.  The first of the series was a joint concert with Medina High School, Ciepluch’s Cleveland Youth Symphony (Bands), and MCB, at Medina High Schools’ Performing Arts Center in the spring of 2001. Later were two concerts at Severance Music Hall in Cleveland with the Case Western Reserve University Bands: the first on October 22nd, 2002 (pictured at right), and most recently on October 14th, 2007.

The Severance Music Hall appearances, more than any other experience for the Band, clarified not only their potential for musical growth, but also the future direction of the Band.  While there were challenges with the Severance performances from a preparation and implementation standpoint, not to mention a financial standpoint, the appearances, none-the-less, provided the Band with musical direction. While playing in the gazebo on Medina’s Town Square presents an enormous gratification for those musicians (and their conductor), playing at Severance, where the famed Cleveland Orchestra inhabits the hallowed halls provided the Band with a sense of musical growth.

Knowing that all the greats in classical music (on both sides of the podium), past-present-future, have played on that stage, and experiencing the sights and sounds of the stage is an experience that can only happen to a select few.  From a developmental standpoint, the preparation for the Severance concerts allowed Neiman to refine and polish the music to be performed as no other concert in his career with the Band had been prepared.  For the Band, the stakes seemed higher and playing at Severance made the demands for perfection worth the end result.  The ability level of the Band moved up two notches for each concert.

PhotobucketMembers of the Band participated in a partnership with: Medina County Arts Groups (Medina County Schools, Medina County Performing Arts Foundation, Medina Show Biz Company, and Medina City Schools) in a summer production of “My Fair Lady” at the newly remodeled Medina High School in their Performing Arts Center complex during the summer of 2003.  Neiman (pictured at left conducting a performance in the MHS PAC pit) was asked to be music director for the production and conduct the pit band. While performances (three weekends in August with three performances per weekend) did not conflict with the Friday evening Band concerts on the Square, the pressure of having every night rehearsals with the theatre partnership and community band, and a concert by the community band was a stretch for band members and conductor.  In 2004, the cooperative moved some of their performances to Friday evenings during late July and members of the band made the decision that this was a conflict with the Band’s Friday evening concerts and chose not to play in the pit.

PhotobucketBeginning with the 2003 season, Neiman began to offer community non-profit organizations the opportunity to promote their cause by auctioning off “guest conducting” appearances with MCB.  Hospice of Medina was one of the first and “guest conductors” have included: former state representative Charles Calvert (pictured at right); Akron attorney Michael Kaplan; and Medina County Judge James Kimbler.

Beginning with the 2004 season, Neiman began to offer the Medina Hospital the same offer of guest conducting.  Dr. Warren Rose (of Medina General) in 2005 and Thomas Tabor in 2007 took advantage of the award.

PhotobucketMedina County Commissioner Patricia Geissman took the baton up in 2004’s July 4th concert for the Medina County Battered Women’s Shelter cause.  Neiman and Geissman are pictured at left.

PhotobucketOther community groups who participated during this time period were Medina ShowBiz Company and the Medina Red Cross.  Other politicians who have conducted the band were United States Senator Donald Pease (D-OH); United States House of Representative Ralph Regula (D-OH); current Ohio Representative William Batchelder, and current United States Senator Sherrod Brown (pictured at right). 

In the early part of the 20th century, Medina merchants supported the Band because their weekend performances in the uptown park square improved customer traffic in stores near the park.  It was fitting that a century later when over 300 people gathered at Medina’s Weymouth Country Club on Saturday, May 1st, 2004, for the eighth Hall of Fame Awards Dinner presented by the Medina Area Chamber of Commerce that the 2004 honorees included William Batchelder, Jr.; Scott Seymour Bennett; Edmund Henry Deibel; Charles E. Hawley; William H. Kelly; and, The Medina Community Band.  The award stated that “Medina Community Band has become a well-respected musical group that contributes to Medina’s economy and represents a significant piece of Americana.”  This was the first time that such an award was ever given to the Band. The recognition was in the form of “the Medina Area Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame Award, founded in 1979 to recognize the dedicated service of those whom the Chamber felt had provided outstanding service to the growth and progress of the business community, or had contributed to the socioeconomic base of the Medina area.”


An invitation of another sort was tendered to Neiman in 2004 (Mary Ann and Marcus Neiman visiting Red Square, Moscow, Russia, pictured at left). The music of John Philip Sousa echoed through the concert hall of the Conservatory of Music in Saratov Russia on Friday, October 15th as Marcus Neiman presented his first international concert, with the Volga Concert Band being the guinea pigs for the nearly three hour concert. Through the encouragement and assistance of long-time friend and colleague Howard Meeker (Cleveland State University), and Professor Anatoly Selianin (Conservatory of Music - Saratov Russia) - Marcus and Mary Ann received their invitation from the Russian Embassy for the trip to Russia. The concert was in Neiman's normal "Sousa-style". It featured a cornet soloist, cornet trio, euphonium soloist, soprano voice soloist, and a Dixieland band ensemble, as well as lots of encore marches by Sousa and Ohio composers Henry Fillmore and Karl L. King. Except for the venue and length of the  concert, it might have been played in the Medina gazebo on a 4th of July.

In the spring of 2006, the Medina gazette ran its annual “best of” list and MCB was awarded the “Best Local Band” for the year. While the award didn’t have nearly the impact that the Chamber award had, it was well received by the community and the Band.

PhotobucketAnother invitation, or at least a request for some mutual public relations, was from Cleveland television station FOX8. They had a daily hour-long show, That's Life, hosted by TV personality, Robin Swoboda,(pictured at left – center) who coincidently lived in Medina. Twenty or so MCB volunteers gathered in the uptown gazebo on a windy, cool, rainy morning of Tuesday, June 5th, 2007, to play bits and pieces of music for the television cameras. Pictured at right are Neiman, Swoboda, and vocalist Dan Doty.  Neiman convinced Swoboda to conduct a march for the airing! Clips of video or sound were then inserted into Swoboda's interviews with downtown merchants and other folks, showing off some of what Medina offers. The program was aired at a later date.

The Medina County city of Wadsworth, harkening back a century or more, in 2007 began what was hoped to be an annual affair, the Wadsworth Festival of Community Bands. A block-long section of a downtown street was cordoned off to vehicular traffic. A tent under which the bands played faced the street and audiences sat in the street, or in the shade of trees in a narrow park on the other side of the street. Instrumental clinics were held in the morning, and four community bands, including the MCB, played in the afternoon and early evening. It would have been interesting to have heard the bands of that bygone era- bands greatly reduced in size and without reed instruments.

PhotobucketWilliam I. Bauer, director of the Wadsworth Community Band and his board of directors sponsored the first gathering of area community bands in over a century on July 7th, 2007, in Wadsworth.  The “Festival of Community Bands” featured Medina Community Band (pictured at left), North Royalton Community Band (Bill Park, director), Wadsworth Community Band, Strongsville Community Band (Kenneth Mehalko, director) and Neiman’s Sounds of Sousa Band.  Workshops and an “instrument petting zoo” were part of the day’s activities.

On September 23rd, 2007, MCB helped Old Phoenix National Bank (now a FirstMerit Bank) celebrate its 150th years of service to the community.  The “party” was held in the gazebo with speeches by dignitaries from the Bank.  MCB played a dedication concert to help celebrate the event and, as had been done for the Bank’s 125th birthday party, the Band played Robert Feldbush’s original composition Theme of the Old Phoenix National Bank march.  The Bank contributed $1,000 to help offset the costs of MCBs upcoming Severance Music Hall performance.

Over time the MCB has recorded (at least) seven compact discs and two sessions on tape. The first tape was the sound track of a Sousa concert video in the Broadway Street hall in 1991. Next was a CD, “Sounds of Summer,” produced in 1994. The person who recorded the music, Dr. Lee Brooks, played a clarinet solo the following summer with the MCB. A tape recording in 1996 was the MCB portion of a joint concert with the Kent-Stark community band in 1996. The next was a holiday concert CD in December, 1999, followed by a Sousa concert in 2000, another in 2002, and another in 2004 from a concert on February 4th of that year. The last two were CDs produced during the Band's two appearances at Severance Hall. All, but the 2004 concert, have been combined into one disc in MP3 format which resides in the Medina County Historical Society collection of MCB materials.

PhotobucketThe Public Square was closed from August 2006 through May 2007 for replacement of electric and water service for the square as well as remodeling a repair to the gazebo. By June 1st, all was complete and the Band took part in a rededication of the entire square that evening.

On January 4, 2008, the Band was invited to play for the departure of the Ohio National Guard, “Call to Duty” of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team who were preparing to leave for Iraq.  The departure was from the Medina High School Performing Arts Center. The departure was from the Medina High School Performing Arts Center. This was the first time in over a century that the Band had played for any type of military exercise.  While the appearance was voluntary on the part of the Band members, a full ensemble was recruited in less than six hours. SFC NGOH Greg Habrat, a former high school band member under Neiman baton at Medina High School was one of the coordinators for the event and helped secure MCB for the engagement (Neiman and Habrat are picture at right).

Of the approximate 76 members who were active in October of 2008: 30 were from Medina; 12 were from Wadsworth; 6 were from each Akron and Hinckley; 5 were from each Brunswick and North Royalton; 4 were from Copley; 2 were from each Cleveland, Cuyahoga Falls, Lodi, Strongsville, Valley City, and Wooster; with 1 player from each Bedford, Berea, Doylestown, Elyria, Fairlawn, Grafton, Homerville, Middleburg Heights, Norton, Rootstown, Spencer, Seville, Twinsburg, and Westfield Center.  Thus, the majority of the members clearly still come from Medina.  Of that 76, 61 (80%) come from Medina County and 15 (20%) come from outside Medina County.  Of that 76, 19 members (25%) are either high school or college students.

Duration of musician membership and their residence location have also changed for MCB. When the Band was composed mostly of high school students, membership duration was no more than three years or so. The 1995-96 members averaged 7 1/2 years, with a range of one to 38 years. Before 1900 most of the Medina Band personnel were from Medina Village. After 1900 and before W.W.II about half were from Medina Village and half from Medina County outside the village. For 25 years after W.W.II more than half were from Medina City.


Scheduling rehearsals at Medina High School (777 East Union Street) became a growing problem.  During the late fall to early winter season, the Band would often be told a day before rehearsal that the room was needed by other Medina school groups and the Band would have to find another site to rehearse.  While provisions were usually made for the Band to rehearse in the junior high band room (now Claggett Building – 420 East Union Street), in many cases, the word to “find another place” came too late to find other accommodations and rehearsal for that night were simply cancelled. The decision was made to move the operation to the Medina County Administration Building (144 North Broadway Street) using first the choral room (old high school band room) beginning in 1991. The county commissioners embraced the importance of the Band and did not charge them for use of that facility or the auditorium in the building for concerts. (Neiman conducting, Denise Milner Howell singing at a MCB rehearsal left).

In the fall of 2007, the rehearsal space both for rehearsals and concerts became a challenge at the County Administration Building as well. For the first time in the Band’s history, a committee of band members and members of MCBA was formed to explore possible sites for rehearsals and performances.  It was decided that performances would be played in the old Medina High School auditorium, now called the “middle stage.”  A contract with the Medina High School performing arts center for a charge per concert was entered beginning with the 2007-8 season.  It was also decided that the band room at Highland High School (4150 Ridge Road, Medina) would be used for rehearsals. The facility at Highland was new, on a flat floor, acoustically treated, well lighted, had heating and air conditioning that was consistent, and the band directors there allowed the Band to use their chairs, music stands, and percussion equipment.  It was agreed by the Band and Neiman that this facility was by far the best they had ever had and would contribute to the further benefit of the band.

PhotobucketThe Band owned a small inventory of instruments and equipment (Bob Bux on bass drum, pictured at left).  A concert bass drum (that was small enough to be used in the gazebo for summer concerts); snare drum, crash cymbal, four timpani, about 75 music stands (and storage carts), and about 75 chairs were owned by MCBA.  In addition, MCBA owned about 500 music compositions in its music library.  The music library, consisting of the Band’s music, music owned by Marcus Neiman, and Neiman’s professional concert band, Sounds of Sousa, had almost 5,000 titles making it one of the most comprehensive band libraries in the state.

The indoor concerts also allowed Neiman to program more literature from the classic standard band repertoire.  While marches were always the staple for Band and audience, time constraints, instrumentation constraints, and rehearsal time during the summer simply did not permit playing music that adult musicians in a community band should play and present during their time in Band.

For the first time in the history of the Band a mission statement regarding the presentation of music in various venues by the Band was evolving and Neiman grappled with the implications of what it would mean for the Band. The Band was now rehearsing on a weekly basis from September through July, presenting three home concerts during the non-summer months, and performing every Friday evening during the months of June and July (weather permitting).  In addition, there was an out-of-town run-out concert to Milan and other performances like Severance. More of the members of the Band were either professional studio musicians, music teachers (band directors or vocal-general music teachers), and otherwise talented musicians who had not only performed in outstanding high school ensembles, but also had performed with some of the nation’s finest college and university ensembles as well as professional ensembles.  In short, the majority of the musicians were asking for more challenging music than what they played during the summer concerts.  They wanted to be musically challenged. Yet it should also be noted that some of the musicians who did not want the pressure of preparing music to a higher level and desired a more social atmosphere, left the ensemble for other ensembles that better fit their musical and social needs. 

It should also be noted that a number of the members of the Band were playing in other musical organizations as well.  Band members were playing with the Brunswick Community Band, Litchfield Town Band, Wadsworth Community Band in Medina County, and the Goodyear Community Band (Akron), Strongsville Community Band, and others outside the county.

The community was growing.  Despite the Friday evenings when the Rally in the Alley was in full swing and the community partnership (now called CAMEO) was giving Friday evening concerts, MCB concerts still managed to draw well over 1000 to 1500 people.

The selection of music for concert overtures, the staple of Saturday morning cartoons as well as concerts in Medina’s Public Square, were expanded to include music by von Suppé, Mendelssohn, Rossini, Holst, Offenbach, and Berlioz. All of these composers wrote music long before the era being covered; however, though some were played in prior years, due to the difficulty of the music, many were not really within the grasp of the Band until this era.  And, while audiences absolutely love these wonderful gems, they cannot be prepared in one rehearsal.  Rehearsal on overtures would now begin with a reading in September through October, then intensive rehearsal work followed the holiday concert.  In addition to these Saturday morning gems, a lively dose of music played by Ohio composers Clare Grundman, Karl King, and others filled the beginning section of each concert.

PhotobucketPhotobucketSelection of instrument solos (Marcia Nelson, pictured on left), which had also been a staple of the Band’s concerts for years, was also evolving.  Those same musicians who had performed in their high school and college ensembles needed to be challenged with performing in front of the Band and before an audience.  While many of the musicians sitting at the top of their respective sections (e.g., first chair clarinet, first chair flute, or first chair cornet) had performed solos and ensembles from the repertoire for their respective instruments, not all of them had the opportunity to perform as a soloist in front of those bands. Neiman began to feature as many of the musicians from the band as possible.  Each summer concert would, hopefully, feature at least one instrumental soloist and, again hopefully, at least one ensemble.  The solo literature was more demanding on the soloist and the accompaniment for the Band was equally challenging.

Not all the soloists were serious about their music.  Elyria resident and long-time member of MCB Kyle Snyder (pictured at right in costume), the resident wit of tuba section, often dressed the part of “Puff the Magic Dragon” for concerts. Kyle’s warmth and humor always made the children flock to the front of the gazebo to hear him play the magical solo.  Kyle would be seen more frequently without the costume playing tuba in Dixieland ensembles featured by MCB. 

PhotobucketPhotobucketNeiman also encouraged a number of the band directors (current and past) of school bands to serve as assistant conductors.  Edward Lichtenberg (pictured at right), in addition to playing clarinet and alto saxophone solos with the band, often took the baton to rehearse the Band during Neiman’s absence.  So did Vicki Smith (Copley High School band director), Amy McArtor (Wadsworth City Schools band director and pictured at left), and, Gail Sigmund (retired from the Cleveland Municipal Schools as a math teacher, with time served as a band director in the Brunswick City Schools).

Performing solos with any ensemble is like walking a tightrope for the ensemble, soloist, and conductor. The soloist must have faith that the Band will not cover the solo line and that the conductor will be able to know when to allow the soloist to come out and when the Band must shine.  Neiman learned from his soloists and his soloists taught him and the Band what was needed to make the experience work. Over this era, the number of individuals from the Band performing solos increased and the depth and quality of literature performed improved.  The more individuals performing solos and ensembles, the better the Band became.


During the greater history of the Band, vocal soloists were either high school students from Medina High School or adult community members.  Some were professionally trained other were talented amateurs who simply enjoyed singing for the community with the Band. And, for the most part, the literature performed was written for band, rather for vocal soloist with band accompaniment.  Neiman began to search out literature specifically written for solo voice with band accompaniment. 

While music written for band, without vocal soloist, was still used, the band parts were often edited to insure that the solo voice was not being duplicated by band parts (and thus often covered).  In addition, Neiman had special arrangements made by area composers, such as Bob Feldbush (from Cuyahoga Falls and pictured at left), Percy Hall (from Mansfield and pictured at right), as well purchasing pieces for solo voice with band accompaniment music from the Leonard B. Smith catalogue (Detroit Concert Band). 


PhotobucketPhotobucketDuring this era, there also were a number perennial favorites among the vocal soloists featured with the band.  Kay Raplenovich, soprano (pictured at left) from Ashland is a professional opera singer who performed with the band for numerous seasons.  She is now living in Jeruzalem, Slovenija with her husband.

Denise Milner Howell, mezzo-soprano (pictured at right), is a principal opera singer with Cleveland Opera and has performed with the Chautauqua Opera, Tanglewood Festival, Akron Symphony Orchestra, and Buffalo Philharmonic.  She and her family reside in Wadsworth.

Tenor Daniel J. Doty (pictured at left) has appeared throughout the Midwest with orchestras and opera companies. A participant of the Opera and Music Theatre Festival of Lucca, Daniel spent six weeks in the Tuscan village of Lucca, Italy singing operatic arias at various venues associated with Lucca’s most famous son Giacomo Puccini. Daniel is a frequent soloist with the Akron Symphony Orchestra and has also appeared with symphonies in Muncie, IN, Urbana, IL, Marion, OH and community bands in Medina and Wadsworth. Currently Daniel serves as the Senior Minister of Trinity United Church of Christ in Wadsworth, Ohio.


Miki Saito, a coloratura soprano, has enjoyed living in Medina (Ohio) since the spring of 2002.  Born and raised in Yokohama (Japan) she moved to the United States to study music and became an American citizen in 1997.  Since her move to Ohio, she has appeared in eight productions with the Cleveland Opera Chorus, has toured the North East Ohio area with the Sounds of Sousa Band and has been a regular guest soloist of the Medina Community Band.

Continued from prior times are the 'ice cream socials' where various groups sell goodies before, during, and after the MCB summer concerts. Due to improved loudspeaker systems over the years, modern audiences can sit around the park and hear the band fairly well, unlike the 'good old days' when the audience stood around the bandstand so as to get within hearing distance of the band. The Friday evening concerts from the gazebo amid the delightful Victorian atmosphere in and surrounding the uptown park are a great piece of Americana.

Interestingly, the serious listeners usually sit front and center for the concerts on lawn chairs or the metal park benches; those who want to roam and or talk, or have young families usually bring blankets and sit either on the south side of the gazebo or immediately behind the band on the east side.  Larger families with blankets and lawn chairs usually sit on the north or south side of the band.  It’s not uncommon to see the same folks sitting in the same spot from week to week and many “stake out” their favorite spot as early as 6p on concert evenings.  Likewise, when the weather becomes a bit “iffy,” it’s not unusual for the umbrellas to sprout.  “What do you mean you’re going to cancel the concert,” is a common cry from these hardy fans even as the rain splashes down.  They need their weekly fix of band music.

As the sound system grew in complexity to serve the Band, it became necessary to employ a sound technician.  Scott Marabito, an employee at NASA in Cleveland, has been helping us get the sounds to the audience for years.  Likewise, a crew has been employed to help set up the sound equipment, band chairs and stands on the gazebo each week.  Members of MCBA usually sit on the north side of the gazebo folding programs, passing them out, and fielding all sorts of questions about the Band.

PhotobucketAnother welcome addition has been the help from local resident Doug McClure (pictured at left) in presenting the colors at each summer community band concert.  Doug commented: I started when I asked you if I could present the flag. I had been raising the flag (and still do) at the Medina home football games. It just seemed the thing to do. My father had raised the flag on the Square (between the cannon and the drinking fountain) for years, so I guess it was just a continuation of what he had done.

While everything all seems to fall into place, there are challenges. Truck traffic, that was an on-going noise problem for concert goers, seemed to be resolved by the addition of a weight scale that re-routed them away from the square. Beginning about 2003 or 2004, The Main Street Café on the west side of the Square began hosting weekly Rally in the Alley behind the restaurant.  By the 2005 and 2006 seasons, the Rally in the Alley began on or before Memorial Day and continued through and beyond Labor Day in the fall.  The rallies were on Friday evenings beginning at 4p and continuing until almost 11p.  The Rallies featured rock music of the 1970 and beyond performed by live rock bands.  Sound bleed became a problem as did motorcycles rumbling through the square.  During the 2008 season, the gunning of engines became so bad that Neiman stopped a concert to “allow the cycles to pass through.” Letters to the Mayor, City Council, City Police, and meetings with community band and restaurant people are on-going at this time.  Neiman and café owner Gary Quesada continue to meet to see how both events can co-exist.  Quesada has worked to reduce noise and give the bands a break during the weekly concert hour and seek to find additional parking for cyclists who circle the square in search of a place to park.

PhotobucketDespite those challenges, the Band was moving forward during this era in other areas as well.  There first was a phone tree, from Neiman to section leaders, to members of the Band, that got information out regarding rehearsals and performances. Getting information to the Band was addressed in 1990, in the form of a hard-copy newsletter distributed by Neiman and euphonium player Jan Van Doren (pictured at right). With the advent of quick and relatively effective electronic communication, Neiman began weekly electronic newsletters with the season opening for the 1990-91 season.  To effectively get the email from Neiman to the Band, MCBA secured a subscription to PagePlop, Inc., a service that provides hosting for a Listserv.  This effectively solved many of the challenges of getting band information to the members via email.  Newsletters now go out every Sunday morning to the members of the band. 

PhotobucketWith the growth of Medina County, getting information about the concerts in the Medina Gazette grew increasingly difficult.  What at one time had been complete coverage of every concert was now simply a listing, if that.  Publicity in the Medina Sum and Medina Post (weekly newspapers) were better.  The only real solution was to attempt to reach those individuals who had email addresses and wanted to become fans.  Slowly building a “fan” email database, Neiman has grown the list to about 200. The mailing had to be delivered from Neiman’s Sounds of Sousa Band website since it had fan mailing capacity.

PhotobucketWith the help of flute section leader Sue McLaughlin (pictured at right), Neiman continued to send media material to all print and as many electronic sources prior to each concert as possible.

Neiman and Band members had been talking about an MCB website and in 2000; Brenda Marshall agreed to be the webmaster. In her own words, Brenda commented: As near as I can figure it was in June of 2000 that the website was started. I was bored at home taking care of my mother and exploring the internet. I thought it would be interesting to start a website from one of the free hosting offerings. I had been taking photos of the band since I started (I come from a family of photo takers) and with programs, along with newsletters that was enough material to start. I chose the Microsoft site because I thought it would be around for awhile. Then I emailed you to check out the results. And that was the start.  

MCB has no formal audition process whereby new members are “tested” to determine if they are able to successfully meet the musical challenges as members of the Band.  Part of the curatorial mission of the Band was to accept those who desired membership in the Band. For the most part, individuals who joined the Band were old enough to know that they should be willing to attend rehearsals and “practice their music.”  From a social standpoint, the chemistry of the Band under Neiman had been one of continued growth and support of those within the ensemble.  Neiman selected experienced and compassionate individuals in each section to serve as “section leaders.”  These individuals are responsible for: seating the section so that all parts would be heard (rather than seating sections from strongest to weakest); making sure that the section had the right music and were prepared to play in rehearsal and performance; and, helping make the determination of which players would play each of the summer season concerts (since only 45 players could play at any one time). In addition, the section leaders served as a quasi-band council to help make decisions on how the Band should be run.  And, it worked!

Current section leaders (as of October 2008) are Sue McLaughlin (flutes); Cindy Ruhrkraut (double reeds); Bianca Murphy; Gail Sigmund (horn, pictured below left); Paul Rocco (cornet/trumpets); Rob Lichtenberg (trombones); Fran Hurlburt (euphoniums); Allan Kelley (tubas); and Chuck Stiver (percussion).

PhotobucketPhotobucketThere are two ways that directors of the Band probably handled getting music to the Band to rehearse and perform and, following performance, getting the music back into some sort of storage for future use. In earlier times, the director probably handled the duties himself. Once the directorship moved to school directors, the duties of library were probably divided with or allocated to a student or other person designated as the “band librarian.” During the time Neiman was band director at Medina High School, the community band librarian was also the high school band librarian.  Once Neiman became fine arts consultant, the duties of librarian were delegated to a member of the band.  At present, there are two librarians (Mary Ann Grof-Neiman – pictured above right – and Gail Sigmund, pictured above left).  With the band library residing in the Neiman household, access for both director and librarian was somewhat easier.

PhotobucketBecause MCB performs eight to ten summer concerts, each concert has from 10 to 12 different musical selections (80 to 120 pieces of music). Taking into consideration the other concerts, another 20 to 30 pieces of music could be in the folders for a total of 100 to 150 arrangements.  Working the math, with 80 folders for the band, the total number of individual pieces of music for the library staff to move from the filing cabinets to folders at the beginning of the season and then from folders back to the end of the season, is 8,000 to 12,000 pieces of music.  Or, about five to ten feet of music!  With the help of the library staff, and about ten volunteers, the entire process can be achieved in a couple of weeks.

To include more member involvement, Neiman put together a “music selection” committee to help recommend literature for the Band to perform during the 150th celebration season.  Composed of former and current band directors, the group reviewed the literature that the Band had performed over the years and met at Neiman’s home to chart out the basic play lists for the season.

Those on the first committee, who met in August of 2008 were: Christopher Burdick (band director) Mary Ann Grof-Neiman (librarian); Lee Harper (trombone section); Ed Lichtenberg (clarinet section leaders); Gail Sigmund (librarian); Vicki Smith (band director); and, Neiman. This was the first time that any formalized music selection effort had been made and Neiman indicated that the group would assist with future season music selection.

Star Spangled Banner (John Stafford Smith arranged by John Philip Sousa) uses lyrics from a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, a then 35-year-old amateur poet after seeing the bombardment of Fort McHenry at Baltimore, Maryland, by Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a London social club.  Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song.  It was recognized for official use by the United States Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. Most prominent among them was “Hail, Columbia” which served as the de facto national anthem from Washington’s time and through the 18th and 19th centuries.  Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs would emerge to complete for popularity at public events, among them “The Star Spangled Banner.” 

PhotobucketTadd Russo (pictured at left) (b. 1976) Currently serves as a staff arranger with the United States Air Force Band in Washington, DC and teaches music technology at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. Russo completed his Masters degree in composition from The Ohio State University where his principal instructor was Thomas Wells. In 2000, he served as The OSU School of Music Composer-in-Residence, composing for the OSU Symphony Orchestra. Tadd has worked extensively in theatre and dance, creating scores for plays and for dance productions. He has composed music for the OSU Department of Theatre and Department of Dance, Berea Summer Theater, Grandparents Living Theatre, and Columbus Children's Theatre. His music has been performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the NOW new music festival (Capital University) at the OCEAn festival (Oberlin Conservatory), the Electrolune Festival (Lunel, France), the Contemporary Music Festival (The Ohio State University), and the Society of Composers National Convention (San Antonio, Texas), and by the Dallas Wind Symphony (Dallas, Texas). As an arranger, he has worked with Ben Vereen, Ronan Tynan, the San Juan Children's chorus, and Kool and the Gang, among others.

As a member of the Tryad Writers Group, Russo has composed and arranged music for the original musicals I Was Young, Now I'm Wonderful and I've Almost Got the Hang of It and co-created The Druid Tree which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland 2000.

Tadd has been commissioned to create works ranging from electro-acoustic to orchestral, including chamber music and music for solo instruments. He has also composed works for solo voice, children's choir and SATB choir. Several of his compositions for voice incorporate the writings of American author Edgar Allan Poe. He currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife Erica.


March from “1941” composed by John Williams (pictured at right). The movie 1941 was “the most liberal reinterpretation of American history since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” said Steven Spielberg.  The movie score was one of the most energetic works of John Williams’ career. The March from 1941 has been heralded as Spielberg’s own personal favorite of all Williams’ marches in their prosperous collaboration.  Its jovial marching band quality lends it a comedic air without quelling its rousing nature and really kicks off the motion picture.

PhotobucketAs Vice President of Instrumental Publications for Hal Leonard Corporation, Paul Lavender (pictured at left) directs the product development and marketing of Hal Leonard's extensive catalog of performance publications for orchestra, concert band, marching band, and jazz ensemble, as well as instrumental books, collections and methods. Paul supervises the creative work of many of the industry's most respected composers and arrangers, producing over 600 new instrumental publications each year. Recently, his association with renowned film composer John Williams has produced the prestigious John Williams Signature Series, featuring Williams' authentic film scores and concert music for professional orchestras. 

For $500 more, The Liberty Bell march probably would have been named "The Devil's Deputy."  Mr. Sousa was composing music for an operetta of that name at the request of the celebrated comedian Francis Wilson.  Sousa asked $ 1500 for the work, but Wilson offered $ 1000.  When they could not come to an agreement, Mr. Sousa withdrew with his partially completed manuscript, which included a lively march.

Mr. Sousa and George F. Hinton, one of the band's managers, were in Chicago witnessing a spectacle called America when a backdrop, with a huge painting of the Liberty Bell, was lowered.  Hinton suggested that "The Liberty Bell" would be a good title for Mr. Sousa's new march.  By coincidence, the next morning Mr. Sousa received a letter from his wife in which she told how their son had marched in his first parade in Philadelphia -- a parade honoring the return of the Liberty Bell," which had been on tour. The new march was then christened "The Liberty Bell."   It was one of the first marches Mr. Sousa sold to the John Church Company and was the first composition to bring Mr. Sousa a substantial financial reward.


The Yellow Rose of Texas. The song, attributed to Charles H. Brown, is based on a Texas legend from the days of the Texas War of Independence. According to the legend, a free African American woman named Emily D. West, a mulatto and hence the reference to "yellow", seized by Mexican forces during the looting of Galveston, seduced General Antonio López de Santa Ana, President of Mexico and commander of the Mexican forces. The legend credits her supposed seduction with lowering the guard of the Mexican army and facilitating the Texan victory in the battle of San Jacinto waged in 1836 near present-day Houston. Santa Ana's opponent was General Sam Houston, who won the battle literally in minutes, and with almost no casualties.  The rose, actually found along the Oregon Trail is a Rosa ‘Harrison’s Yellow.’


Rolling Thunder (March).  Henry Fillmore (pictured at left) composed the march in 1916 and dedicated it to Ed Hicker, presumably a trombonist since the piece was advertised as a “trombone ace.”  It has subsequently been used by circus bands for diverse acts, including High Sway Poles, Elephants, and Roman Rides. 


The Merry Widow, the operetta by Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehár (pictured at right). The story, concerning a rich widow and her attempt to find a husband is based on an 1861 comedy play “The Embassy Attaché” by Henri Meilhac. One of the best known songs from the score is “Vilja Song.” The Merry Widow, Hanna, celebrates at her house with an authentic Pontrevedian party in which she sings of a woodland sprite who falls in love with a mortal man "Vilya" and reveals her affection for Count Danilo.

They Can’t Take That Away From Me was featured in the 1937 film “Shall We Dance” music and lyrics byGeorge and Ira Gershwin.  The selection was sung by Fred Astaire on the foggy deck of the ferry from New Jersey to Manhattan to Ginger Rogers, who remains silent listening throughout.  George Gershwin died two months after the film’s release, and he was posthumously nominated for the Academic Award for Best Original Song at the 1937 Oscars.


Windward Passage was commissioned in memory of Eugene Wind, Sr. by Medina Community Band and written by Cincinnati composer David Shaffer (pictured at left). Shaffer was born in Columbus, Ohio and attended Grove City High School, Grove City, Ohio. He holds a Bachelor Degree from the Ohio State University and a Master of Music Degree from Miami University (Ohio). Mr. Shaffer has taught in the Hamilton, Ohio; Northridge, Ohio; and Wyoming, Ohio schools. Mr. Shaffer has been associated with the Miami University Marching Band for 30 years as Graduate Assistant Director (1978-80), Assistant Director (1980-97) and has been the Director for the past 10 years. Under his direction, the Miami Band has performed twice at the University of Michigan, West Virginia University and the University of Cincinnati. In 2000 and 2005, the Miami Band performed a combined half-time show with the Ohio State University Marching Band. The Miami Band has performed for seven regional Bands of America Contests and is currently hosting one of these yearly events at Miami University. In 2003 the Miami Band performed as the “Santa Band” in the 77th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

In addition to his involvement with the Miami University Marching Band, Mr. Shaffer has over 350 compositions and arrangements in print. His compositions have been used at clinics and music festivals around the world and have been placed on contest required-performance lists in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Mr. Shaffer has been the recipient of the ASCAP Standard Award in Music Composition for 18 years.

PhotobucketAt a Dixieland Jazz Funeral written by Jared Spears (pictured at left).  Spears is professor of music emeritus at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, and received the B.S.E. degree in music education from Northern Illinois University; the B.M. and M.M. in percussion and composition from the Cosmopolitan School of Music; and the D.M. in Composition from Northwestern University. Spears has taught theory, history, composition, percussion and band on all educational levels, from elementary school through college. Since his retirement from ASU in May of 1999 (after 32 years of teaching), he has maintained a heavy schedule of composing and conducting. The most outstanding of his awards have been the Faricy Award for Creative Music from Northwestern University School of Music, Award of Merit from the Arkansas Chapter of the National Federation of Music Clubs, Outstanding Educators of America, International Who's Who in Music and Who's Who in the World of Percussion-U.S.A., Citations of Excellence from the National Band Association, Sigma Alpha Iota National Arts Associate, and several ASCAP awards. During his tenure at Arkansas State University, Spears received the University President's Award for the outstanding faculty member, as well as an appointment as a President's Fellow. To date he has produced over 250 original works for band, choir, orchestra, and chamber ensembles-a majority of which are published by American and European companies. His music has been performed and recorded worldwide, and he has conducted band festivals, camps, and clinics in Canada, Europe, throughout the United States, and has appeared at several universities as a guest lecturer.

PhotobucketCarrollton March was published by C.L. Barnhouse Company (Oskaloosa, Iowa) as part of “The Karl King March Book.”  The march was published by Barnhouse in 1909.  The dedication on the march reads To Ira S. Moody, tuba soloist, Carrollton, Ohio and named after the Ohio community of the same name. King was 17 or 18 at the time the march was written and playing in the Thayer Military Band and the Neddermeyer Band (Canton Ohio).  This march was the first march written by Karl L. King (pictured at right) that was published by the C.L. Barnhouse Company. 

PhotobucketStars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa.  The march is considered the finest march ever written, and at the same time one of the most patriotic ever conceived.  As reported in the Philadelphia Public Ledger (May 15, 1897) “ ... It is stirring enough to rouse the American eagle from his crag, and set him to shriek exultantly while he hurls his arrows at the aurora borealis.”  (referring to the concert the Sousa Band gave the previous day at the Academy of Music).

The march was not quite so well received though and actually got an over average rating for a new Sousa march.  Yet, its popularity grew as Mr. Sousa used it during the Spanish-American War as a concert closer.  Coupled with his Trooping of the Colors , the march quickly gained a vigorous response from audiences and critics alike.  In fact, audiences rose from their chairs when the march was played.  Mr. Sousa added to the entertainment value of the march by having the piccolo(s) line up in front of the band for the final trio, and then added the trumpets and trombones join them standing on the final repeat of the strain.

The march was performed on almost all of Mr. Sousa’s concerts and always drew tears to the eyes of the audience.  The author has noted the same emotional response of audiences to the march today.  The march has been named as the national march of The United States.

There are two commentaries of how the march was inspired.  The first came as the result of an interview on Mr. Sousa’s patriotism.  According to Mr. Sousa, the march was written with the inspiration of God.

“I was in Europe and I got a cablegram that my manager was dead.  I was in Italy and I wished to get home as soon as possible, I rushed to Genoa, then to Paris and to England and sailed for America.  On board the steamer as I walked miles up and down the deck, back and forth, a mental band was playing ‘Stars and Stripes Forever.’  Day after day as I walked it persisted in crashing into my very soul. I wrote it on Christmas Day, 1896.”

The second, and more probable inspiration for the march, came from Mr. Sousa’s own homesickness.  He had been away from his homeland for some time on tour, and told an interviewer:

“In a kind of dreamy way, I used to think over old days at Washington when I was leader of the Marine Band ... when we played at all public functions, and I could see the Stars and Stripes flying from the flagstaff in the grounds of the White House just as plainly as if I were back there again.”

“Then I began to think of all the countries I had visited, of the foreign people I had met, of the vast differences between America and American people and other countries and other peoples, and that flag our ours became glorified ... and to my imagination it seemed to be the biggest, grandest, flag in the world, and I could not get back under it quick enough.”

“It was in this impatient, fretful state of mind that the inspiration to compose ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’ came to me.”

The march evolved over its first few years of performance.  Mr. Sousa would premiere a new march and place it as an encore on the program.  It must be remembered that The Sousa Band was a concert band and performed in concert halls, opera houses, theaters, and other large rooms.  Mr. Sousa would verbally make changes on the march to his players during this time.  After the march was “broken in” the changes would become standard for future performances.  It would also seem logical that changes the musicians themselves did, either through intention or simply performance, would also be added to the march.

There are many reasons why the “authentic” Sousa style does not appear on most editions of the march today. Prime among them are the simple fact that most publishers will not go into that much detail for the interpretation of a “march.”  Another probable cause is that Mr. Sousa was an entertainer and did not want the competition to “lift” his composition’s unique performance quality.

PhotobucketGod Bless America.  In 1918, Irving Berlin (pictured at left) produced Yip, Yip Yaphank, an all-soldier show at Camp Yaphank. God Bless America was one of the songs in that show, but Berlin decided to delete it from the production. In 1938, Kate Smith asked Berlin to write a song for her to use in her Armistice Day radio show. Unable to write anything that satisfied him, he remembered the song from Yip, Yip Yaphank and gave her, free of charge, exclusive performing rights. She first performed it on her radio show on November 10, 1938, the last peacetime Armistice Day this country celebrated before World War II.

In 1939, both major political parties used God Bless America in their Presidential nominating conventions. Kate Smith recorded the song for Columbia and it became immensely popular. It was heard or sung at rallies, balls, and athletic events nationwide.

Berlin was a passionate patriot and did not want to profit from this patriotic song. In 1939 he copyrighted it in the names of Gene Tunney, Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and A. L. Berman and stipulated that all proceeds go to the Boy and Girl Scouts.

This stately and reverent song represents the thoughts of the multitudes of immigrants such as Berlin, himself, who were grateful to this country for giving them the opportunity to transcend the limitations of their old world origins.

Israel Baline, the son of a Jewish cantor, immigrated to the United States from Russia with his family in 1893. Here, he spent his early years in great poverty. In 1904, he worked as a singing waiter in Chinatown and Bowery cabarets of New York City. After a printer erroneously printed his name "Irving Berlin" on a piece of music, he chose that name for his own. In 1911, he achieved success pioneering ragtime with Alexander's Ragtime Band (originally titled Alexander and his Clarinet) and Everybody's Doin' It.

In his incredibly successful career, he produced over 1500 songs including those from such memorable Broadway hits as The Cocoanuts, Ziegfield Follies, This is the Army, Annie Get Your Gun, and Call Me Madame. His White Christmas has been the best-selling piece in all of music history except perhaps for John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever. All this is particularly remarkable considering that he could not read music and could play the piano only in the key of F-sharp. That fact kept his fingers mostly on the black keys, but his special piano could automatically transpose, a feature he controlled with a lever under the keyboard.

PhotobucketGoin’ Home. The melody for "Goin' Home" was written by the classical Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (pictured at right) in 1893 as part of his Symphony no. 9: From the New World (a symphony loosely based on Longfellow's poem "Song of Hiawatha"). In the early 1890's, Dvorak was invited to teach for a four-year residency at the American Conservatory of Music in New York. Dvorak was very interested in "peasant music" when he lived in Prague, and when he came to America, that interest transferred over to what he referred to as "negro melodies." His copy assistant Harry Burleigh (an African-American) played a large role in introducing him to these folk songs. Dvorak began to promote the controversial idea that African-American music would be the future of America. He incorporated these musical themes into his own music, and admitted talented African-American musicians into his classes free of charge. Now this idea of Black music as the "future of America" was controversial in a number of ways. Some, as you would expect, felt he was tainting the fine art of classical music by incorporating such a "lowly" art form. Others felt that Dvorak's analysis wasn't authentic, but based solely on some of the popular affectations of "negro melodies" written by white men (like Stephen Foster, for example). Nevertheless, Dvorak's interest in African-American melodies (which did include spirituals like "Swing Low Sweet Chariot") affected many in the music world. One of his students, William Arms Fisher, took his message to heart and began collecting, arranging, and publishing hundreds of African-American spirituals. He also wrote words to the Largo movement of Symphony no. 9, which became known as "Goin' Home."

PhotobucketJari Villanueva (pictured at left), arranger of “Goin’ Home,” holds degrees from Peabody Conservatory of Music and Kent State University. He has taught in the Baltimore City and Baltimore County school systems, Goucher College and Loyola College. He has performed with the Baltimore Symphony, Annapolis Symphony, Baltimore Opera Company and performs as trumpet soloist at over 50 weddings a year in the Baltimore-Washington area. He served as Music Director for musicals at Dundalk Community Theater, Catonsville Summer Theater, The Young Victorian Theater and The Peabody Ragtime Ensemble. His published works include many for band, brass ensemble and brass quintet. Publishers include Ludwig Music, Musicians Publications, Music Express and JV Music. These publications include Goin’ Home, Honor With Dignity, The Music From Titanic (the movie), American Revolutionary War Medley, Amazing Grace, Overture from H.M.S. Pinafore, and English Folk Song Suite by RV Williams. He also arranged 2 volumes of Civil War Music for Brass Quintets. Many of his arrangements have been recorded.



Tadd Russo (guest conductor-composer, pictured at left) (b. 1976) Currently serves as a staff arranger with the United States Air Force Band in Washington, DC and teaches music technology at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. Russo completed his Masters degree in composition from The Ohio State University where his principal instructor was Thomas Wells. In 2000, he served as The OSU School of Music Composer-in-Residence, composing for the OSU Symphony Orchestra. Tadd has worked extensively in theatre and dance, creating scores for plays and for dance productions. He has composed music for the OSU Department of Theatre and Department of Dance, Berea Summer Theater, Grandparents Living Theatre, and Columbus Children's Theatre. His music has been performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the NOW new music festival (Capital University) at the OCEAn festival (Oberlin Conservatory), the Electrolune Festival (Lunel, France), the Contemporary Music Festival (The Ohio State University), and the Society of Composers National Convention (San Antonio, Texas), and by the Dallas Wind Symphony (Dallas, Texas). As an arranger, he has worked with Ben Vereen, Ronan Tynan, the San Juan Children's chorus, and Kool and the Gang, among others.

As a member of the Tryad Writers Group, Russo has composed and arranged music for the original musicals I Was Young, Now I'm Wonderful and I've Almost Got the Hang of It and co-created The Druid Tree which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland 2000. Tadd has been commissioned to create works ranging from electro-acoustic to orchestral, including chamber music and music for solo instruments. He has also composed works for solo voice, children's choir and SATB choir. Several of his compositions for voice incorporate the writings of American author Edgar Allan Poe. He currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife Erica.

Mark A. Hensler, euphonium soloist, (pictured at right) is in his 20th year as a music educator in the Northwest Local Schools (Cincinnati, OH).  In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he is assistant director and soloist with the Cincinnati Brass Band and director of the Ohio Military (Community) Band.  Mark is frequently featured as a soloist with high school and community bands in the Cincinnati area and performs regularly with Marcus Neiman and The Sounds of Sousa Band.  Mark received his bachelor of music education degree from Morehead State University (KY), where he studied euphonium with Dr. Earl Louder.  He is state immediate past president for the Ohio Music Education Association. 


Jennifer Woda, soprano soloist, (pictured at left) has performed extensively in the Northeast Ohio area, including solo work with Cleveland Opera on Tour, Lyric Opera Cleveland Educational Outreach, Opera Circle, Opera per Tutti, Kent State University Orchestra, Canton Comic Opera Company and Church of the Savior. Ms Woda lives in Cleveland Heights with her husband, Brian Thornton, their five year old daughter, Maya and two crazy Border Collies, Buddy and Mimi.  

PhotobucketSharon Ray, guest narrator, (pictured at right) serves as a Medina County Commissioner for Medina County.  She is on the 911 Planning Committee, ADAMH Board, County Corrections Planning, County Planning Commission, Data Processing/Microfilm, Emergency Management, Investment Advisory Board, and the NE Ohio League of Leadership and Advocacy (NOLLA) as well as Youth Services.



Tentative Program – Friday, July 31st, 2009


(Selections either published or performed by Medina Community Band

on the listed year)


Fanfare, Hometown Fanfare............................................................................... Tadd Russo


World Premiere Performance – Commissioned by and Dedicated to
Medina Community Band, Marcus Neiman, conductor


Tadd Russo, guest conductor


Anthem, Star Spangled Banner (performed 8-20-1904)......................... arr. John Philip Sousa


March, March from "1941" (performed 4-23-1995) ..................... John Williams/Paul Lavender


March, Liberty Bell (performed 1-11-1976) ............................................... John Philip Sousa



Euphonium Solo, Yellow Rose of Texas (performed 7-27-2007)................... Lewis J. Buckley

Mark Hensler, soloist



March, Rolling Thunder (performed 6-5-1981)............................................... Henry Fillmore


Soprano Solos

     Merry Widow: Vilya (performed 6-19-1912).................................. Franz Lehar/Leonard B. Smith


Shall We Dance: They Can’t Take That Away From Me (per.7-29-05)George and Ira Gershwin/Warren Barker

Jen Woda, soprano soloist


March, Windward Passage (performed 7-4-1995)......................................... David Shaffer


Dixieland, At a Dixieland Jazz Funeral (performed 2-14-1996)..................... Jared Spears

(Soloists TBA)


Characteristic, Lassus Trombone (performed 7-23-1921)............................ Henry Fillmore


March, Carrollton (performed 1-31-1983)...................................................... Karl L. King



     Stars and Stripes Forever (performed 5-11-1901)..................................... John Philip Sousa


     God Bless America (performed 7-21-1945)..................................... Irving Berlin/Erik Leidzen


     Goin’ Home (performed 7-4-1997)......................................... Antonin Dvořák/Jari Villanueva

The concert will be played in the memory of Medina Community Band clarinetist Jerry Lanyi.

[1] It should be noted that information provided by a published Medina Community Band history by band member (and band historian) David Van Doren was instrumental in descriptions of Band activities given in this and all concert publications in this sesquicentennial celebration series.