City Band set for the season

FAIRMONT – Fairmont City Band has been a source of free entertainment in the summertime for 140 years.

Band members Dianne Bittenbinder and Nancy Gunther hope to see more people come out and enjoy the summer evenings at the Sylvania Park band shell as they celebrate the band’s 140th anniversary.

“We’ve been consistent with members in the band,” Bittenbinder said. “It’s open to students who have completed the 10th grade, although there are band directors who can recommend certain students.”

There are no auditions or tryouts needed.

“When I started, I hadn’t played the clarinet for years,” Bittenbinder admitted.

“We have a wide variety, but in the key spots we have some excellent musicians,” added Gunther, who also plays clarinet. “We have people who are just getting back into it, to band directors.”

“A lot of it is like riding a bicycle,” Bittenbinder said. “It all starts to come back to you.”

The City Band plays five concerts from mid-June through the first part of July. This includes a large Fourth of July concert.

“The atmosphere here for the Fourth of July is absolutely wonderful,” Gunther said. “Band members who have family members visiting who play an instrument invite them to come and play with us.”

The band performs a variety of music, but tries not to complicate things.

“We keep it at high school band level,” Bittenbinder said. “Some of the pieces are geared more toward the younger people, like some Disney pieces. Then we have others for the older people who remember Glenn Miller and Irving Berlin.”

“We perform a lot of marching tunes, those are always a favorite,” Gunther said. “Patriotic songs, show tunes, there’s something everyone can enjoy.”

The 40-plus members of the band are not just from Fairmont, but from throughout Martin County and neighboring counties.

“We’ve had some who perform while they’re in high school, then they move away,” Bittenbinder said. “But then we have some that have been there in the 60-year range; some of them have been playing longer than I’ve been alive.”

Not only is the band always open to new members, but also open to all audiences.

“That’s the great thing about it being at Sylvania Park,” Gunther said. “The kids can play on the playground while mom and dad listen to the music. We have some regulars out in the audience that always sit in the same spot. They have the benches set out, and it’s just a wonderful setting.”

The band practices at the band shell at 6 p.m., with the concert at 8 p.m. Any cancellations due to bad weather are announced on the local radio stations by 5 p.m. that day.

Dates for Fairmont City Band concerts this year are June 11, June 18, June 25, July 4 and July 9.