By Nancy Price
In the early 90s, a Greenwood attorney named Duane O’Neal wanted to renew a passion. He wanted to play an instrument he hadn’t touched in 20 years. After searching for a musical ensemble on the Southside with no luck, he was referred to a retired Ball State University trumpet instructor and administrator, Dr. Joe Naumcheff, who helped O’Neal start a local community band.
In June 1993, 27 musicians attended a rehearsal at Greenwood Community High School in preparation for their first concert. Twenty-seven years later, the Greater Greenwood Community Band is still going strong.
“We now have over 100 members on the roster and average somewhere between 70-85 band members per concert,” said Director Randy Greenwell.
The 501(c) (3) nonprofit hosts about eight concerts per year, four of which are held at Greenwood Amphitheater in Surina Square Park each summer. The band also performs Halloween and Christmas concerts at Greenwood Community High School. “The previous directors, Tom Dirks and Ora Pemberton (associate director) really worked hard to develop the identify and membership in the band,” Greenwell said. “When I took over in January of 2018, my focus was to continue that, while improving the artistic quality of the band sound and the creative aspect of the programming.
“Since that time, we have offered several themed concerts, featured instrumental and vocal soloists, increased the depth and breadth of our very own summer community band festival (in August), created multi-media offerings at concerts through video, performed for the Conn-Selmer Institute at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Ind. (a music conference for music educators) and are taking the band to Ireland in June 2020 to perform a series of three concerts (two of which will be shared concerts with local groups from their communities.”
The band’s next free performance, a side-by-side concert, will be held this Sunday. “I sent invitations to five schools to nominate up to four interested high school musicians to join us for the second half of our concert,” Greenwell explained. “We are also trying something else new … I have created a smaller wind ensemble within the group that will play some rather challenging literature for the first half of the concert. I think the audience will really enjoy this concert. It is also a great way to promote lifelong music making with our youth. When they see so many adults of various ages still playing and performing music, it has got to send a very positive message to them that they can continue to do the same thing.”
For more information about the Greater Greenwood Community Band, please visit greenwoodband.org.