The lead-in to the Center Magazine for December 1976 read “Something of a musical phenomenon has happened at the Midland Center for the Arts in recent weeks. And the results are still being felt.”
That was our beginning and the Midland Concert Band is still going strong! And it’s hard to believe it all started as a birthday gift of a new bass clarinet to Bonnie Hart from her parents. At the time, Bonnie was a senior research chemist at Dow, and had played clarinet in school bands and the Chemical City Band. And as the article continues, “a new clarinet is a new clarinet, and a clarinet wants playing in a band.”
During the summer of 1976, Bonnie crossed paths with Floyd Mead, then the director of bands at Northeast Intermediate. Floyd was filling in as conductor of the Chemical City Band for Larry Guenther, who was touring in Europe with the Midland Symphony. Bonnie commented to Floyd about the lack of a band to play in during the fall and winter months. Bonnie urged Floyd to take on the job of directing such a group, if she would lay the organizational groundwork for him.
In the fall of 1976 Bonnie met with representatives of the Music Society, asking for sponsorship to launch this new band. The Society liked the idea of an additional outlet for the musical interests of Midland area adults, and lended support and use of facilities at the MCFTA. The first organizational meeting was held September 30 at the Center, and much to Floyd’s surprise, 87 people showed up, instruments in tow. All 87 people auditioned, and all were accepted to play in the band. This has become the Band’s philosophy-no one is turned away who wants to play. And this traditional audition process still remains in place-new players are asked to audition before the band at their first rehearsal. Players are asked to give their name and a brief history about themselves.
The representation of this first band included college students, music teachers, scientists from Dow and Dow Corning, homemakers, people who had played in military bands, college bands, music camps like Interlochen or Blue Lake, and so on. Besides the love for music, all 87 had one additional thing in common-none had played in a band or orchestra since coming to Midland!
The first concert was February 5, 1977, and was titled “No Strings Attached”. The program included such numbers as Sea Songs, Psalm 46, and Introduction, March, and Shepherd’s Dance. Floyd Mead served as director for the MCB until the start of the 1979 concert season, when he was replaced by Larry C. Smith. Tom Broka assumed the position of interim director following the passing of Larry in 1994. Gary Burgess became the director in 1995.
On June 15, 2014 the Board of Directors of the Midland Concert Band announced that Joel Wiseman had been selected as the new Conductor of the Band, following the retirement of Gary Burgess, who directed the band for 18 seasons.
The Midland Concert Band showcases 4 concerts per year. Check out our concert schedule: concerts