Community band to begin summer concerts

Chris Picazo, Staff Reporter

Kiwanis Park’s free weekly concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and will continue each Thursday for six weeks until July 9.

Community Band Director Ginger Stanfield said the band consists of musicians ranging in age from 12 all the way up to 80 years old.

“We have people from all over central Illinois to donate their time and talents,” Stanfield said.

Musicians come from as far as Champaign, Windsor and Toledo to perform in the community band concerts.

Diane Ratliff, Charleston tourism director, said the band is open for anyone to join who has an interest.

Stanfield said there is a preference for musicians who have at least two years of experience on their instrument prior to joining.

“We only have one rehearsal and then a performance, and then I change all the music and we do that for six weeks,” Stanfield said. “They have to be pretty talented to just be able to sit down and sight read through and then perform it two days later.”

The amount of members at each performance varies, but Stanfield said in 2014, an average of 70 musicians played each week.

“It started out with just a handful of musicians about 35 years ago, but we built it up,” Stanfield said. “It keeps going every year, and last year there was at least 70 or so for each performance, and we have had as many as 85.”

The musicians who take part in the concerts enjoy playing each week, and some come back each year to be a part of the band.

“We have a lot of community band members who have been a part of this for a long time.” Ratliff said. “Not only do some parents play, but the children also play as well, so it’s a family thing.”

Playing in a community band concert is not where all the fun is, though. Being a part of audience each week can be just as exciting.

“I get stopped everywhere I go, receive very sweet notes through the mail and the rec department,” Stanfield said. “Everybody is very appreciative, and they just love the concerts.”

The music played at the concerts consists of a wide variety including show tunes, marches and new music.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair to Kiwanis Park to enjoy a summer evening filled with live music.

Chris Picazo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].