Dalton Indoor Band Concert

150th Celebration History Medina Community Band History, 1859 - 2009 Provided by a published Medina Community Band history by band member (and band historian) David Van Doren.   The Beginning,  1859-1875 Why a town band? What possessed people of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to pay for support of and to hear a group or relatively untutored amateur fellow townsmen tootling away on a bunch of shiny horns?  What possessed those fellow townsmen to try to learn, generally with little or no expert help, to play this array of shiny horns, and then to put up with weekly rehearsals and come out to play at a wide variety of town functions?  The answers in a few words are - pride, sociability, hunger for entertainment, and later, habit. Whether marching in parades on the Fourth of July, welcoming visiting dignitaries and officials to town, or "discoursing sweet music," bands - either primarily or exclusively brass in instrumentation - were unquestionably the most visible and audible musical organizations of the day.  The Village of Medina, sometime in 1859 prior to a "serenade" by the Seville and Medina bands on 15 September, joined the growing number of communities in America that supported a town band. The first mention of the community band in the  Medina County Gazette   Leader Post ) was in 1859, in a small notice on September 15, which stated that the band made an appearance along with the Seville Band in performing before several prominent citizens in Medina. The photo above is of the Medina Cornet Band on the Square in Medina in their bandwagon, depicting a scene from the 1860s. Joe Yeager, a Medina artist, painted this picture of a temperance rally from an old photograph. The Medina County Courthouse as it appeared in this era is at the upper left. Courtesy of the Medina Community Design Committee. All Band members were male, with most of them in their early 20s, and early on all were from the Village of Medina. Commensurate with their young age, most of the members were workmen, clerks, or students. All were volunteers. No record has been found listing the musical selections the band played.  They performed three evening serenades outside the homes of prominent local men, including H.G. Blake, a member of Congress who lived in the Village, six concerts or practices open free or otherwise to the public, and marched in the 1860 Fourth of July parade.  Other performances were held in such places as Phoenix Hall - third floor of the building that is the site of the present FirstMerit Bank building, the public park square, the Medina County Fairgrounds, and the "Brick Church" - an 1833 Congregational church building, rebuilt in 1881 as a new Congregational church, which is now the United Church of Christ Congregational on the northeast corner of the Medina Town Square. The first director was a professional musician from Akron, a  Professor Dustin Marble , hired to organize the band and teach the members. The band members purchased their own instruments and hired the Professor as an instructor and part-time director. Music for the early Medina Cornet band probably came from such publications as the  Brass Band Journal Brass Band Journal , probably the first American publication of saxhorn pieces. A similar publication appeared in Cincinnati in 1859. It consisted, for the most part, of popular dances and quicksteps arranged from piano pieces for a band of from six to twelve players and was published by W. C. Peters & Sons as  Peters' Sax-Horn Journal . The Civil War probably contributed to the apparent decline in band activities after that great start.  Very little was reported for the next 27 months of the band's history. We have not been able to find any information regarding the band from March 1863 through July of 1865. In July 1865, a number of energetic citizens united and organized a Cornet Band.  The band was furnished with a full set of new instruments at the cost to the organization of $725. The cornets, at least, were silver coated, which lead to the name "Medina Silver Cornet Band."  The band was under the joint direction of  Worden Babcock  Professor Marble .  Financial support came not only from admission to indoor concerts, but also from donations by individuals.  For some reason, the band was not mentioned in 1868 or 1869 and the Lodi Cornet Band led Medina's 1869 Decoration Day parade.  There was no organized Independence Day celebration of any kind reported in 1869. By early January 1870, efforts were under way to revive the Medina Band by way of raising money for the instruments.  A set of instruments for 14 musicians was purchased from E.G. Wright & Company of Boston, Massachusetts for about $550, and all but the drums arrived by December. A band association had been organized in November. A constitution was adopted and officers of the association elected.  The association owned the instruments, and probably the bandwagon from the previous band. The musicians commenced twice-a-week practices in their room in the Empire Block (directly northwest from the square).  The drums having arrived in January, 1871, the MSCB began this reincarnation at a donation party with "half a dozen pieces" at Empire Hall on February 1st. Next came a "grand ball" at the same place on 22 February for the benefit of the band. Evidently the band members had purchased some furniture for their practice room, paid rent for use of the room, and probably paid the "accomplished" or "competent" teachers who helped them learn their instruments, thus needing assistance in meeting these expenses.  It was helpful that the Medina Gazette's publisher was one of the band's directors.  The newspaper exhorted its readers to "buy tickets (to the ball) / go yourself / take your wife / or your sister / or some other person's sister." The band played for a half hour before dancing commenced and a half hour at intermission. Thereafter, the band performed the functions of a 'community band' at irregular intervals and in a variety of venues.  Members of this version of the MSCB had only one holdover from the first band, their leader  William F. Sipher . Musicians ranged in age from a 13-year-old cymbal player to a 60 year old baritone player, with most in their teens or 20s as in the first band.   Unlike the first band, this group was mostly 'hard working mechanics' which typified town bands.   William Sipher  (pictured at left) was the band's director in 1870. Having emigrated from Germany, he was trained a shoe repairman; however, in attempting to make a living in Medina, then engaged in the manufacturing of bricks, producing half-a-million bricks a year. In the fall of 1863, he joined a company of National Guards who were called into active service in May. 1864. They formed Company E. 166th O. V. I. and served until September following. Sipher was chief musician in the regiment. In 1871, he was elected Corporation Treasurer for Medina. Sipher played bass in the Medina Silver Cornet Band prior to becoming conductor.  It is also noted that he played 1st cornet in the band during the 1870s. 1876 - 1892  Independence Day was infrequently celebrated in Medina Village prior to the centennial in 1876. The Band’s part in the celebration began at 6a after the 100 cannon salute had been fired at 4a and understandably, “all Medina was awake.”         The Medina Silver Cornet Band played for political rallies or “Mass Meetings,” as they were called, mostly Republican ones, and for victory celebrations following an election, complete with an occasional bonfire somewhere on the square. The  Gazette  editor, a staunch Republican, once wrote,  “The Medina Band plays just as well for a Democratic as a Republican meeting, like the gentle rain from heaven that falls upon the unjust as well as the just.” The picture at the left is of the color guard of the 23 rd  Ohio Volunteer Infantry with the colors of their regiment (ca. 1863-1865). This unit was probably very similar to those listed below serving Medina County. The Band also played at reunions of various regiments of Ohio Volunteer Infantry from the Civil War. Included were the 42 nd th  regiments, both in Medina Village and elsewhere. The Band was also expected to play at the Medina County Fair when not engaged elsewhere, which they did in 1871, 1874, and 1877. The repertoire of the Medina Band concerts in those days comes to us in only two newspaper items.    They played six numbers for a concert in the park in 1877 and a different six for a concert in 1880. By today’s standards, that does not seem like much, but we must remember that the musicians did not have the extensive music education training in the schools as is available today. One Medina Village resident commanded enough respect for some aspects of his musical abilities to actually get paid for directing bands.    Worden Babcock  (pictured at right), a member of the first Medina Band, moved to Akron 1867 where three years later he developed an excellent 16-member Cornet Band that performed in Akron, Medina, and elsewhere.    By June of 1877, Babcock was leading the Medina Cornet Band. The band reorganized in 1878, probably as a result of the exhausting 1877 season in which the band was “out on the streets 72 times from April through December.”       The new band only contained two of the 1870 band as well. Dedication of the nearly finished new town hall and fire engine house came at Thanksgiving that year.    The procession, lead by the Medina Cornet Band, was to have marched from the old engine house to the new one; however, it was so muddy that the equipment could not be brought out, and the procession marched on the sidewalks. One of the few Fourth of July celebrations in the village from 1876 to the turn of the century was held in 1879, the MCB led a procession of the Medina Light Guards, city officials in carriages, and fire engine equipment around the square and neighboring streets. A new enterprise by the Band, not new to the Village, was to give “ice cream festivals” in the park on some Saturday evenings. This implies that the MCB played in the square on a more or less regular basis, though this supposition was not verified by newspaper accounts. A difference between then and now is that it appears the Band was the recipient of any net profit, whereas today, the group doing the work at the social gets the profits.   The year 1879 was the busiest, followed by a general decline in activity until the prolonged disorganization in the 1890s. The problem was probably a combination of changing leadership and disinterest among the players.    Lansing B. Smith  was designated leader at the 1878 reorganization, but Worden Babcock returned to Medina and the Band in May of 1879, and started a marble and granite works to earn a living.    Babcock, Lansing B. Smith Edward Welling    He moved to Medina Village from Brunswick Township in or after 1880 and played a leading part in Medina Village music for over ten years thereafter. The holdover of players was not great, with six of ten of the 1880 Band from the 1878 Band, and only four of ten of the 1882 Band from the 1880 Band.    Members were almost entirely the “hard-working mechanics.” As happens now and again, a fad takes a community by storm, and then peters out with hardly a whimper. Such was the Village’s exposure to the roller-skating craze of 1882-86. A rink was set up in Phoenix Hall, and the MCB took advantage of the situation to play there about once a week for the entire season (October 21, 1882 to April 28, 1883), including twice on Thanksgiving Day.   The Band resumed its accustomed place at the head of the Village’s Memorial Day parade in 1883, which it did annually through 1889 under their new name of the “Grand Army of the Republic Band of Medina.” Several years previously, a Grand Army of the Republic organization of veterans of the Union Army in the Civil War had been established, with one of the duties of each local post to see that Memorial Day was properly observed in their community.       There were many other G.A.R. bands in Medina and surrounding counties, so perhaps this renaming of bands was just another fad. As the pendulum swings, so went the fortunes of the band movement. No less than 13 different cornet bands plus the Medina G.A.R. Band played in the Village in 1883-84, a substantial improvement over 1881.    These included bands from Berea, Canton, Chatham, Elyria, Hinckley, Liverpool, Lodi, Remson Corners, Seville, Sharon, Spencer, and Wadsworth. An impetus of some of this activity in the Village was a “Grand Bicycle and Band Tournament” held at the Medina County Fairgrounds in August 1883. The greatest change in the membership of the Band took place in August of 1886 under the direction of  Edward Welling       Technically the Band was no longer a brass band, but the old name (e.g., Medina Cornet Band and Medina G.A.R. Band) were still used.      They made arrangements for a minstrel company to perform in Phoenix Hall whereby the Band was to receive a certain share of the proceeds.    The Band was so popular during that time that the operator of Chippewa Lake Park would advertise that the Medina Band would play there on such and such a date, but would not engage the Band.        Medina Gazette , demanding that the practice be stopped. The picture above is the Medina G.A.R. Band marching in the May 30 th    Director Edward Welling    Courtesy of the Medina County, Ohio District Library. The Band, under the name “The Citizens Band of Medina,” started a regular series of open air concerts during the summer months on the square in 1890.       However, there are hints that summer evening concerts were held on a more or less regular basis both before and after 1890. In 1891, if not before, the Band was practicing in the town hall. They marched and played as usual in Medina’s Memorial Day observance, including the expected dirge and also a “sacred overture.” By the time the Medina County Fair was held in September 1891, for which the Band played, it was again being called the MSCB or MCB and only once more was called the Citizen’s Band in the  Gazette In order to stir up interest in maintaining the Band, the  Gazette    “It has become one of the recognized and necessary institutions of the town.    It is reported to us that its treasury is in depleted condition at present, and that if no aid is extended the disorganization will take place before the summer months.”  A suggestion a week later was that  “about six or eight lady musicians added to the Band and boys would all be on hand.”    Welling advertised in April 1892: “ Wanted – at once, a Tuba Player for amateur Band, to locate here for the coming season .” This action was really not that uncommon.    Employers of the day or a little later sometimes advertised for workers who could play a musical instrument or ‘double in brass.’    Welling’s action was unusual in that it called for someone who would perhaps move to Medina only for a half year or so. The Band, with or without a bass player, did make it through the Medina Memorial Day observation, but just barely.       The effort was not fast enough, and the Wadsworth Band was called upon to play for the 1892 Medina County Fair.    The Medina Band did play again on the square on Saturday evening in late September of 1892. 1893 - 1909  Gazette  called for help from his readers to get the Band started again in April of 1893:  Help the band. Boom the band. No town is complete without a brass band. Help the boys! One of the pleasant features during the summer season has been the evening concerts by the Band. Let it be resurrected.  The Band had already been resurrected more times than the legendary Phoenix, yet it did it again for the Memorial Day observance. The Citizens Band had been under the direction of  Edward Welling  Gazette  had hoped, including a full summer season of the pleasant Tuesday evening concerts on the park, and music for the Republican campaign in October.    Then the Band made a tactical error. They decided that the only way to keep up a band was to get new instruments, which they hadn’t had in 20 years.    The citizenry did not see fit to come up with the $300 and the Band was not heard from again for five years. The   editorialized in 1899:  What might be done to meet one of the town’s blushing needs? That Medina needs a band and needs it very much is certain! We are way behind the lighthouse when it comes to talking of band music. Seville, Wadsworth, and Chatham can all laugh at us here in the county seat.  By June of 1899, Medina’s Comet Lodge No. 60 of the Knights of Pythias were talking of “organizing a band and insuring its support.” And so it came to pass that new band instruments were ordered and had arrived in early August.    The new Band was out on a Saturday evening in mid-September to play “several pieces at the south-west corner of the Square.”    Medina’s K of P Band, as it was now called, marched, played, and ate at one of the sponsor’s shindigs a month later. The Band played off and on at Fourth of July festivities, at the Medina County Fair, several times a year for their sponsor, and occasionally at a political rally.    Perhaps the activities most enjoyed by the citizenry were the regular, hour-long Saturday evening concerts from 7:30p (sun time – 27 minutes slower than Eastern Time) on the square from May or June into September or October. Typical descriptions of the open-air concerts were:  a large crowd was in Medina Saturday evening to hear the band concert and trade. The evening was pleasant and profitable, both to those who came out to hear the band and to the merchants.  It was quite logical for people, especially those from the countryside surrounding Medina, to combine business with pleasure as long as they were in town for one or the other. The  waxed eloquent in June of 1902:  A number of years ago, a brass band was one of the luxuries of the city of 10,000 inhabitants. Now, the brass band has become an educator of musical taste, a purveyor to the pleasure of the community, a business venture which is more or less remunerative, and oftentimes a feature of public business by means of advertising and its relation to business enterprise.    This advancement of a new feature in our own local progress is due to the recognition of the value of music, to the improved personal character of the band membership, to the laudable ambition of men who enter the organization to improve themselves in the art, and to the tendency of modern days to secure all the enjoyment and pleasure that can be purchased. Medina’s new Knights of Pythias Band in 1901.    Members were: (1) Roy E. Kimmel; (2) Charles H. Manville; (3) Desemus M. Sanford; (4) Walter Thorndike; (5) Ernest Edwards; (6) William J. Wall; (7) Bion Hawkins; (8) unnamed cornet player; (9) John F. Iper; (10) Charles H. Iper; (11) George A. West; (12) Albert H. Fretter; (13) Nelson R. Waltz; (14) Paul Dillman; (15) Charles E. Sacket; (16) Sherwood A. Bean; (17) Owen E. Crofoot; (18) Ned Hawkins; (19) Claude A. Kindig; (20) Edward Welling. Courtesy of the Medina County Historical Society. The first K. of P. band director was  William J. Wall    He was a cornet player in the Band and worked as a druggist in the W.K. Albro store (corner of Washington and Court Streets) during his time with the band. He probably gave up leadership of the Band to study for the State of Ohio pharmacy examination, which he passed in 1908. The age range of the 1899, 1901, and 1905 Bandsman was much greater than in any previous Medina Band. Several were over 60 and a few others were into their 40s. New occupations were evident as a result of technological advances. There was a telephone lineman, which sounds prosaic today, but which dealt with an industry less than 15 years old then. The drum major was an electrician. Medina’s electrical plant was no more than three to five years old at the time.    William J. Wall  was complimented on putting up a handsome new globe electric sign in from of his drugstore and the  Gazette    Albert Fretter opened an automobile garage in 1909. In late July of 1900, Medina hosted Seville (pictured below), Wadsworth, and Spencer Bands. The Medina K. of P. Band mercifully played only two marches before turning the evening over to the Seville and Spencer bands (an hour each) and the Wadsworth Band (25 members). The business men of Medina did themselves proud in decorating for the occasion. The public square, bright with electric lights, Chinese lanterns and everywhere draped with flags, bunting and bright color, presented a sense of gayety never before witnessed in Medina.  Two hundred cakes and 108 gallons of ice cream were consumed, to give an idea of the size of the crowd  conservatively estimated at 4,000  and teams hitched to almost every street hitching-place within a half mile of the park. Another innovation by the Band was a winter band-choral concert series designed to be a financial benefit to the Band. The first of these was held in February 1902 in Phoenix Hall, which by this time was a respectable theater with 500 seats, a stage, scenery and all. A full house heard a  vastly improved  Band, a choir of 40 members, plus Miss Floy Ager of Sharon who plied the audience with whistling solos. The next winter the Band presented a series of six concerts more or less in the ‘in the style of John Philip Sousa.’ The concerts had the normal band music of the era, plus vocal solos by persons outside the Band organization and instrumental solos by Band members for two performances. In subsequent years many of the soloists tended to be professionals from outside the village. Whether this was to add variety or improve the quality was never stated. Certainly, villager Edna Rickard was no slouch as a reader (a recite of selections; an elocutionist), as she later signed a contract with a Boston firm to tour the country in that capacity. One out-of-town soprano  pleased those who could appreciate her high-toned musical efforts, but she was singing over the ears of most of her audience. Jacob H. White  Paul H. Dillman  (pictured at left), cornet player in the Band and an insurance agent in the village, directed the Band from March to October 1907.    Stowell White  (October 1907 to probably 1909 and 1913 to probably 1914 and pictured at right) played clarinet in the Band, was a machinist in 1910, a taxi driver, and a Village Marshall and night watchman in 1920. Facilities for the Band concerts “on the square” had improved with time.    The square had been raked and mowed in May 1899, with some flower beds constructed. There was a new bandstand erected at the southwest corner of the square in 1900, facing Washington Street, but closer to Court Street, and fitted out with electric lights which  are to aid the Band boys, and make the whole scene a livelier one. The Band’s one and only winter concert of 1908 was scrubbed when Phoenix Hall was shut down, and the Band could not find another hall on a week or so notice. From there onward this Band activity began to peter out. Memorial Day parade in Medina, Ohio, May 30 th    Order of the procession was the Medina Cadets (already turned the corner), the K. of P. Band in the foreground led by Drm Major Albert Fretter, about 50 old soldiers, and schoolchildren carrying flowers and wreaths, followed in the distance by civilians afoot and in carriages. Courtesy of Alice Hartman Chester, whose father, Roland Hartman, played trumpet in the Band and is probably in the picture.    1910 - 1926 Only one of the five band directors during the K. of P. era was a professional musician.    Maynard England (1910-1912). He had spent five months in Paris studying music in 1908, accompanied by his Cleveland-based instructor. He became the second composer associated with the Band of whom we are aware.       He presided as director until the end of the summer season of 1912, when he was booked for 12 Christmas engagements in New York state. In December of 1910, Director England wrote a letter in the  Medina Sentinel (the Band)  to be dead to all this community? Are we to merely exist in the summer and in the winter to crawl into our hold like a bear, there to await the coming season?    He answered his own question with three concerts early in 1911 held in the Baptist Church, but the only one scheduled for winter of 1912 was lost to a blizzard. One more was played in 1913, and that was it for winter concerts during the K. of P. era. While the Band did some traveling outside of Medina prior to 1910, the farthest they traveled, under the auspices of the K. of P. was Dayton (OH) in 1911, Cleveland (OH) in 1912, and Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1913. Aside from the growing steam and electric railroads being constructed in the county, there was another technological advance in transportation peripherally involving the K. of P. Band.    The “first aeroplane flight in Medina County” came as the featured attraction at the 1912 Medina Village Fourth of July celebration at the Medina County Fairgrounds, for which the Band played.    One of the Wright brothers’ staff of flyers “handled the levers of the big Wright biplane,” performing “all the tricks known to birdmen” before a crowd of 10,000 people, which was not bad for a village of under 3000 population. The whole affair was repeated in 1913, but ended in disaster.          The disaster was the death of three men on the Fairgrounds standing near a tree hit by lightning. Reasons for the divorce of Band and the Knights of Pythias have not been found. In January, 1915, “at a meeting of the Medina Board of Trade … the report of the committee recommended that the Board become responsible for the local Band, formerly known as the K.P. Band, was accepted.” By April, all was settled.    The Board had gotten by subscription from the villagers most of the necessary $550 for annual maintenance of the Band, and  George M. Denton  had been secured as Director for the “Medina Board of Trade Band.” The annual activities of the Band continued to include the Memorial Day observance in the village and the summer concerts in the park.    The former followed the same format used for many years, with the added attraction of flowers dropped from an airplane onto Spring Grove Cemetery in 1922. The concerts were as well received as always by the villages.    For example,  by actual count there were at one time during the Band concert last Saturday night 423 automobiles on Medina’s public square round the park  at a late June concert in 1915.    In June of 1923,  an actual count showed more than 400 automobiles parked in and around the square at 8:30.  It wasn’t until 1926 that parking was banned in the middle of the streets around the square. Weekly rehearsals were held in the town hall on Monday evenings nearly year round. The range of other activities remained undiminished in scope, though perhaps somewhat reduced in numbers. Conspicuously absent from what the K. of P. Band had done were excursions to Cedar Point, Silver Lake, and so forth. Participation by the villagers had fallen off to the point that there was little or no money to be made any more in such enterprises. Local orchestras were being formed which played some of the winter concerts that the Band used to perform. George A. Offineer had recently reorganized an earlier orchestra of his and his 16 member Medina Concert Orchestra played in mid-December 1914 at the Princess Theater (north side of the square).    Seven of those orchestra members were or had been members of the Medina K. of P. Band. In addition to community or church orchestras, music departments in various public schools in the county were turning out students with instrumental music training. Here was a potential feeder for providing new Band members, which was not fully exploited.    These same schools also started orchestras as part of their music education curriculum. School bands came along a bit later than the orchestras, with Medina High School’s Band starting in 1922. A Boy’s Band was started in Medina in 1917, and probably become Medina’s Y.M.C.A. Boys Band by 1921, which included several members of the Board of Trade Band. All was not always peaceful and serene in the good old days.    As today’s Band must deal with trucks, traffic, and bikers, the Bands of past days had their problems as well. After George M. Denton, editor of the  Sentinel,  directed his first Medina Band concert in the park in 1915, the paper suggested  that hereafter the ‘Ring around the posy’ boys and girls, who were having the time of their lives, not only hopping about, but yelling and making a great disturbance directly under the bandstand, could just as well be carried to another part of the park, thereby enabling the band to do better work and the listeners to more fully enjoy and appreciate the music.    An extra large crowd turned out for a 1924 concert and  the Band gave an entertainment that pleased all fortunate enough to get close enough to hear it. The audience and the Band also had to contend with some suggestions about how playing and listening to  The Star Spangled Banner It was urged that  everybody standing, uncover, and those seated in the park or in autos arise. A further suggestion is that the Band also play the piece standing  which the Band did do afterwards. Extraneous activity during a Saturday evening concert occurred in early August 1917.    The Band concert was interrupted … after two numbers had been played to allow Hon. O.W. Stewart of Chicago an opportunity to make the first ‘dry’ speech of the campaign in Medina. The temperance fight had a long history in the village, and the 1917 campaign was another phase of the battle against the spirits. Not so blatant a use of the Band occurred three years later when the Pastor of the Baptist Church conducted a religious service in the park after the concert was over. Membership in the Band had been hovering around 25 for a number of years. The “coming home of many boys” from World War I brought musicians with in-school high school instrumental music training as well as experience in service bands.    Instrumentation early in 1922 was seven clarinets, five saxophones, four alto horns, ten cornets, five trombones, one baritone, three tubas, one bass drum, and two snare drums for a total of 38. Unlike bands from previous eras, nearly half of those playing were from outside Medina Village. The 1923 Band in particular reflected an influx of high school students. By 1925, the instrumentation was two piccolos, one oboe, ten clarinets, six saxophones, four alto horns, eight cornets, three trombones, two baritones, two tubas, and three drums. The next year, a new constitution was adopted that reduced the size of the Band to a maximum of 30 by eliminating those deemed “too young.” It was proposed that a junior band, which would act as a feeder for the older organization would be adopted. The junior band was not seen in print again.    Perhaps of interest to modern Band members is the policy of the 1922 Band which was precisely the same then as now.    With historically high membership something needed to be done to ration the limited space on the bandstand and to maintain competence with the music to be played there and elsewhere. Part of the solution was that “attendance at rehearsals must be kept up or the tardy members will be prohibited from playing at engagements.” Photo 1 of 3 – Medina Board of Trade Band taken at a picnic at Chippewa Lake Park in 1923 – from left to right: Roland Hoff, Stowell White, Fred W. Kelser, Roland S. Hartman, Alfred Dannely, Alvin Morelock, Myron Piece, Abner P. Nichols, Richard Venner, and Charles H. Iper. Photo 2 of 3 – Medina Board of Trade Band taken at a picnic at Chippewa Lake Park in 1923 – from left to right: Roy Hinman, Robert W. Gable, George Coleman, Wayne Cadnum, John F. Iper, Fred Bohley, Ernest Barry, Silas Ashdown, Millard L. Warren, and, Vernon E. Blanchard.   Photo 3 of 3 – Medina Board of Trade Band taken at a picnic at Chippewa Lake Park in 1923 – from left to right: David J. Hurlebus, Charles F. Dannley, Joseph A. Seymour, Maynard N. Flickinger, Ethir Wyman, Clifford Bailey, Lauren F. Wainwright, and, Albert H. Fretter.    (Courtesy of Alice Hartman Chester).  Selection of music for the Band to play was not a totally random action on the part of the director. Director George M. Denton write in 1915 that  the attempt was made to present to the public each week a varied program of light and heavy numbers with a slight preponderance of the latter. This was attempted because … there seems to be a cultivated taste in Medina for good music, and because the director believes his musicians are capable of playing a heavier grade of music than they had been accustomed to playing.    The message translates into the modern phrase ‘pushing the envelope,’ which Community Band Conductor Marcus Neiman uses occasionally as the Band struggles through a particularly difficult piece of new music. The Board of Trade Band had six directors abetted by substitutes  Fred Kelser George M. Denton  Sentinel  from at least 1914 to 1932. In the 1920s, he played flute in and arranged some music for the Medina Community Orchestra. Ten years after his stint as band director, he was elected Mayor of Medina (1925-1929), under spending his opponent $7.40 to $10.50 or so, and in 1933 became a Medina County probate judge. George A. Offineer  (July 1916-August 1917) of Jeromesville (Ohio) had come to Medina from Lodi about 1907 as a “well-known” barber and five years later was hired by A.I. Root Company as a traveling salesman. He taught himself how to play cornet, which he did for a few years with the Band, plus piano and violin.    An industrious fellow, he organized and led the two orchestras previously mentioned. As band director, he had done some arranging of music for them. He died at the age of 38, of a heart attack, four hours after directing a Saturday evening concert.    C.P. Draeger    He was assistant director at the time of Offineer’s death, and he temporarily led the Band until a new director was elected at the Band’s annual meeting. The person so elected was  Harry W. Lincoln  (1917-1920), a garage foreman of Brunswick in 1920, who moved to Medina Village in 1922. He must have been a fine musician, as at one time he played clarinet in the pit orchestra at the Hippodrome Theatre in Cleveland, and played clarinet and cello solos at various functions during the 1920s and 1930s in and around Medina Village.    He had another four-year hitch as Medina Band Director (1927-1930), played in various orchestras in the village, and took over the leadership of the Medina Symphony Orchestra in 1929 when founding director John Beck left Medina. Lincoln also manufactured cellos from a shop in his basement, and in 1917 started the Medina School of Music in the Bradway block wherein he, John Beck, and George M. Denton were three of the five instructors.  As active as Lincoln was, the next director,  John F. Beck     A native of York Township in Medina County, Beck was pianist for the Princess Theatre in 1913, studied piano and organ at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, taught piano in Medina from 1915 to 1929, was organist and choir director for different churches in Medina, and played innumerable organ recitals all over the area. When he was selected to be director of the Medina Band, he was also director of two church choirs and the Medina Community Orchestra. The latter group became the Medina Symphony Orchestra and played in the village park on Sunday afternoons in the summer before crowds of up to 1,000 people, had many a winter concert series, and was one of the first Medina musical groups to be heard over Cleveland radio. In 1921, he also reintroduced one of the annual complimentary Band concerts in the summer to be played on other than a Saturday evening. All this occurred while he was director of music at Medina Senior High School. He resigned from Band leadership after the 1925 season. After rejecting several job offers, Beck finally left Medina for Euclid, Ohio, in 1929. Stowell White  substituted for John Beck for a week in 1921, and for a month or so during each of the next two summers. The latter were times when Beck was attending music summer school in Cincinnati. White was a jack-of-all-trades in his earning a living and his music.    It was said that “he could fill in and be at home anywhere from director to playing most any instrument down to the bass drum.    Lauren F. Wainwright Gazette  mechanical department, rounded out the Board of Trade Band directors by assuming the task for 1926. He did a considerable amount of vocal solo work in and around the Village for the Medina Band and various churches, as well as directing church choirs. His experience with bands including having had distinct success with boys’ bands in four other localities, plus directing the Medina County Y.M.C.A. Boys’ Band from 1922 until it no longer appeared in the newspaper. For a time in the mid-1930s, he had an 11-piece German band for hire. Wainwright was elected to one term as Medina’s mayor in 1947. Harry S.G. Stoudt (trombone) wrote  Okisko Rag Lakeside is the Place for Me , strangely enough, while at Lakeside, Ohio, in the summer of 1916. Richard Warner, a high school age percussionist, produced the march,  Medinian , which he dedicated to the Band in 1925. He also composed a saxophone trio and arranged Medina High School’s “Victory Song” for the Band. Warner later became a college music professor. The end of WWI was celebrated twice in Medina, as it undoubtedly was all over the country. A premature report of an armistice on November 7, 1918 resulted “in a monster crowd … and there was a big parade around the square and the Medina band gave a patriotic concert.” When the real thing came along four days later, the celebration was even bigger, noiser, and longer-lasting than before. The parade on November 11 “consisted of several bands of more or less merit.”    The Band was part of a July fiasco in 1924 (July 1).    A much-heralded “Ford day parade,” postponed from a month earlier, was to take place around the square. The Band fulfilled its obligation.    It marched over to the corner of North Broadway and Liberty streets, but there was no parade there. It marched around the other half of the square and did its part by going up onto the platform (bandstand) and playing a few pieces. After a while a half dozen Fords gathered together and ‘paraded’ around the square.  All this prompted the   to write:  The King of France had 40,000 men, marched up the hill, and then marched down again. The Medina Band, with no Fords behind, marched around the square, but could not the parade find.  The merchants did; however, report it to have been a good trading day. Work toward a new bandstand began in 1925.    A standing committee, The Medina Community Organization, obtained drawings of bandstands from several concerns, with or without a roof, with or without a comfort station, and all designed to be built over the existing fountain and surrounding basins in the center of the square. The roof caused some anxiety. The location caused a great deal of anxiety. After two years of committee meetings and other expenditures of hot air, the  Gazette  held a straw vote among Medina Village citizens of all ages between leaving the fountain in the Park center or replacing it with a bandstand. The fountain won 1,447 to 49. The County Commissioners, whose responsibility the park was, replaced the fallen-down fence around the basin, the  Gazette  paid for flowers and ferns around the basin, the water was turned on, goldfish were put back in the basin, gravel was added to cover the soil in the basins to clear the water so the fish could be seen again, and the Band went back to the old bandstand for the rest of the summer. Before Memorial Day of the next year the old bandstand was moved from the southwest corner of the park to a station just east of and as close to the fountain as possible –  the removal being accomplished without any blast of trumpets.  It was given new flooring and new steps, dressed in green paint, and the wooden seats for spectators were repaired. The Medina Board of Trade was not the most active of sponsors, perhaps because it was in general decline. The Board was essentially dead by the early 1920s, but waited until 1926 to officially fold its tent. By that time its functions had been taken over by the Kiwanis and other groups, through no formal compact between any of these and the band had been found.  1927 - 1943 Harry Lincoln    Lincoln, director of the Band of Trade Band from 1918 to 1921, had a four year hitch from 1927 to 1930.          Fred graduated from Otterbein College (Westerville, OH) with a degree in music, and taught at Carroll College in Helena (Montana) before being drafted in WWI. He played French horn in a military band with overseas service.    Kelser sang many solos and duets, some with the Medina Band, and directed the Methodist Church choir for a few years. The Band no longer rehearsed or performed year round.          From 1934 until 1936, they rehearsed at Medina High School, now the Garfield Elementary School building (pictured at right); during 1936 and 1937, they were in the basement of the Post Office (the building now numbered 207 South Court Street). The Band did; however, continue its participation in the Memorial Day parade and activities in the park afterwards. By 1934, this was done without uniforms.       While attempts were made to move concerts to the high school auditorium, by the time decisions were made, the crowds were gone.    Concerts were still held on Saturday evenings during their summer season. While a proposal by Albert Fretter, in 1928, was made for sound amplification for the Band, nothing happened.    While pleas from Band Director Kelser for a larger bandstand were unanswered, a separate podium was build for him to stand on and conduct the Band in 1933.   We know that the Medina High School Band was playing concerts in the park on Wednesday evenings in August of 1928 on the bandstand in the center of the park.    The high school band also played in a parade and concert on South Court Street at the December 1929 opening of the Fisher Brothers grocery and meat store.      The size of the Medina Band ranged from 25 to 30 players for the first few years of this era, capped by the drafting of a new constitution.    Membership was on the decline and by 1933 was down to 22 members, and by 1937 down to 20 members. The National Reconstruction Administration (NRA) caused a bit of turmoil over the Band’s concert hour in 1933.       The Band concerts were running 8 to 9 p.m., and the merchants felt that “crowds of possible purchasers were being kept away from the stores.” A compromise for the succeeding week had the concerts running from 8:30p until 10p. From a financial point of view, the Band was now “on its own.”    Members were usually paid a few dollars a season for their efforts of playing 10 to 12 concerts a year. For a few years prior to 1929, the business community had acted to solicit operating funds from within their ranks.    In 1929, Medina embraced The Community Chest concept for the first time, and exceeded its goal by about 50%.    Included in their benevolence was $750 for the Band. The Band played several times that fall for the cause.    The Band’s share was cut to $550 in 1931 to allow the Community Chest to also support the King’s Daughters. In 1932, The Medina County School Band played three Saturday evenings concerts interspaced with the Medina Band’s concerts to extend the concert season. Despite the help of the Community Chest and the County School Band, the Medina Band could no longer sustain a summer concert season beyond eight concerts, which was the total concerts held in 1934. There were no concerts in the summer of 1935.    The Band did perform at the Memorial Day of 1935. Harold Zeigler, of the merchants, and Stowell White, of the Band, canvassed Medina merchants and raised sufficient money to enable the village to have ten concerts in 1936. Fred Kelser, who had spent the previous year teaching music in Montana, returned for the summer as part of the park concerts. He held audience sing-a-longs, perhaps for the first time as part of the park concerts. In 1936 solicitation of the merchants did not generate enough funds to field the band.    There were no funds to field a band during the 1937 season, but the Band played for the last time in 1937 for the Memorial Day Parade. The high school band took the Medina Band’s place in the 1938 Memorial Day parade, and the Medina Chamber of Commerce hired the 105-piece County School Band for three concerts in the park that year.    And, for the first time, a public address system was available for speeches in the 1939 Memorial Day exercises. For the second year in a row, the Medina Chamber of Commerce was expected to hire the County School Band to a series of summer concerts in the park.    Unfortunately, there are no reports of any concerts having actually taken place in 1939 by any band. 1944 - 1960       Gone were the money-raising activities, the winter and out-of-town concerts, the Memorial Day parades or parades of any kind, the Band constitution, and elections of officers, the serenades, and political rallies.    All that was left were the seven, usually eight concerts, to as many as 11 annual, free, open-air concerts in the uptown Park on weekends sometime during June, July, and August.    The hour-long concerts started anywhere from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays from 1943 to 1951, and Fridays thereafter because the merchants had decided to keep their establishments open on Friday evenings instead of Saturday evenings as before.   Band directors during this period were all employees of the Medina Village/City School System, with all the background of schooling and directing that was necessary to obtain those jobs. They were paid for this extracurricular activity by the Band’s sponsor, at least after the Medina Chamber of Commerce became sponsor in 1946. The first Band director of this era was  Paul T. Wagner  (pictured at left), supervisor of music in the Medina City Schools. Public schools referred to classroom teachers who taught band in more than one building (at more than one level) as “supervisor’s of music,” rather than band directors. Wagner directed in 1943, but enlisted in the Marines and reported for duty just before the 1944 concert season began.       After the war, he returned to Medina for one more year in the school system, this time as director of instrumental music, and as director of MCB (1946).   Fred Kelser  (pictured at right), director of the Medina Band in the 1930s, filled in as MCB director in 1944, as well as bring principal for Medina City Schools’ Garfield Elementary (234 South Broadway Street).       When the school district moved the high school to 144 North Broadway Street, the old high school became Garfield Elementary.    When the school district moved the high school to 420 East Union Street, the old high school first became Medina Junior High School, then the County Administration Building.   With the director of the Band now being a faculty member for the Medina Schools, to the best of our knowledge, we believe that rehearsals were held in the music rooms (or band rooms) of the high school. For this era, that would mean that rehearsals were held in the High School (Garfield Building, 234 South Broadway Street) from the beginning of this era (1944) through 1956, when the high school then moved to 144 North Broadway Street.    The Band rehearsed in the band room (and stage) in the 144 North Broadway Street building until the high school moved to 420 East Union Street in 1957.    From 1957 to the end of this era (1960), rehearsals were held in the band room of the then senior high school at 420 East Union Street (now Claggett Building).  Pictured above is the Medina Community Band on a summer night in 1944 on the square in Medina.    The next director,  Vance O’Donnell  (pictured at left), served as director twice. The first time was in 1945, when he was supervisor of instrumental music for the Medina City Schools.    He had gone to Wadsworth and taught in the Wadsworth City Schools, in a similar position in 1946 and returned to Medina in 1947 as head of the music department at Medina High School.    O’Donnell then directed the MCB from 1947 through 1949, after which he moved to Alliance, Ohio, to become high school band director at Alliance High School. Next came  G. Gordon Ritter  (1950 and 1951) who was hired in Medina as supervisor of instrumental music for the Medina City Schools.    Ritter had ten years of experience in Ohio and Florida leading marching and concert bands and orchestras before coming to Medina. Ritter left the Medina City Schools to teach in Dover at Dover High School beginning in the year 1952. Following Ritter’s short tenure as director of MCB was the much longer one of  Richard N. Stacey  (1952-1962). Stacey (pictured at right) was at one time a high school pupil of Ritter’s in Marietta, Ohio.    Before being hired in Medina as supervisor of instrumental music, Stacey was director of music at Fredericktown, Ohio.    It should be known that Stacey was the longest surviving director of MCB prior to Marcus Neiman becoming conductor. He became principal at Medina Junior High School in 1963, and relinquished the role as director of the MCB.   The first Band sponsor of this era was the Medina War Bond Committee. They were responsible for organizing whatever weekly program was to be in addition to or in place of the MCB.    They were also the sponsor in 1944 and probably in 1945 as well, though corroboration of the latter has not been found.    Programs included speeches about the patriotism of buying War Bonds, community singing led by Fred Kelser and assisted no end by song sheets passed out among the audience, plus outside musical combos such as the Sally West Trio from Cleveland and several aerial acts.    Concerts, in addition to those of the MCB, were performed by the LeRoy Boy Scout Band (1943-45), the Liverpool High School Band (1944), directed by Donald Parfitt, and the Berea Community Band (in 1945). The Medina Chamber of Commerce was the next sponsor of the summer concerts starting in 1946 and continuing through the end of this era and well into the next era. The Chamber paid for “necessary expenses from treasury funds, thereby eliminating donations by businessmen.”   Band members were primarily drawn from the Medina High School Band, through some effort was made to enlist adults from the community. This differed markedly from prior eras in which most of the members were adult males. According to newspaper announcements of the upcoming rehearsals, participation seemed to be limited to those residing in Medina County. At the very beginning of this era, there was also another major change in membership. A large number of the musicians were females!    Until 1937, the only female discovered to have been a Band member was Mildred Schlabach, who doubled as a clarinet player and vocal soloist in the late 1920s.    This occurred despite most, if not all, other County musical organizations having co-educational long before the Medina Band’s temporary demise in 1937.    In contrast to the uniformed Medina Bands of earlier times, the MCB made no attempt to have uniformity of dress. Band members no longer received any financial payments for their participation, but the Chamber of Commerce treated to a dinner the evening of the last concert of the season those musicians who had attended a specified minimum number of concerts (four to six) and/or the last concert. Rehearsal from 1943 through 1956 were held for 90 minutes once a week in the band room at the high school at 144 North Broadway Street and started on April 5 th th    The rehearsal schedule changed to two rehearsals a week, only in 1948, in an attempt to “help the quality of the concerts.” Thereafter, rehearsals started the week of the first concert of the season. The “temporary” bandstand used during WWII continued to be used afterwards. In 1952, the bandstand had been moved to the north edge of the square. It was used for several years before being replaced there in 1956 by a concrete slab with low walls, donated by Albert Snyder, much like the present bandstand now occupying the site. The latter was given to the city by the Breakfast Kiwanis Club of Medina. The Band also had the use of loudspeakers by 1964. Since neither these, nor any other bandstand used in the era, had any storage space, the Band had to move stands, folding chairs, and percussion equipment from rehearsal room in the high school to the bandstand and back again for each concert. While rehearsals were in the Broadway Street high school, this was not a major challenge as long as each student helped move their own equipment.    With the move of the high school in 1955 to 420 East Union Street (pictured at left and now called Claggett Building), all of this paraphernalia had to be moved by truck. Vocal soloists, through technically not part of the Medina Bands, certainly have added to the variety and enjoyment of Band performances over the years. Some have been high school students, some college students, some were adult villagers, especially in the early part of the last century, and some also played instruments in the Band. Some sang the same song or songs several times during a given year and even year after year, perhaps because the Bands’ libraries were limited, or perhaps on demand. 1961 - 1977    Often the vocal soloist of the evening would lead the audience through the intricacies of “Down By the Old Mill Stream,” “When You Wore a Tulip,” “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” “My Wild Irish Rose,” and other old favorites. Vocal soloists, through technically not part of the Medina Bands, certainly have added to the variety and enjoyment of Band performances over the years. Some have been high school students, some college students, some were adult villagers, especially in the early part of the last century, and some also played instruments in the Band. Some sang the same song or songs several times during a given year and even year after year, perhaps because the Bands’ libraries were limited, or perhaps on demand. The free Friday evening concerts in the uptown park or square, formerly held on Saturday evenings, have been more popular over the years than we may suspect. A community attitude survey conducted in 1965 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce asked as one of the questions: “What do you like most about Medina?” The large majority of those answering the survey questionnaire replied: “The summer Band concerts.” By 1967, the Junior Chamber had become a co-sponsor of those concerts. Following Ritter’s short tenure was a much longer one of  Richard N. Stacey (1952-1962). Stacey (pictured at right) was at one time a high school pupil of Ritter’s in Marietta, Ohio.    Before being hired in Medina as supervisor of instrumental music, Stacey was director of music at Fredericktown, Ohio.    He became principal at Medina Junior High School in 1963, and relinquished the role as director of the MCB.    James Staten  directed the first half of the 1961-62 summer seasons while Stacey was at summer school in Columbus.   Robert Dubbert     Charles E. Carey  (1964-1970), a fellow Ohio State University marching bandsman of Stacey’s, was hired in 1963 to direct the Medina High School Band and became the new director of the MCB in 1964. Carey (picture at right) had been an assistant director for seven years at Wilmington, Ohio before coming to Medina.    In addition to directing, he played an occasional cornet, trombone, or euphonium solo or played in a trio or quartet with the Band. While his opinion of what music to play might not have been universally accepted, since he was the director, his opinion was what counted.    In 1965, Carey had rehearsed the MCB in a couple of rock and roll numbers, “but decided against them for Band use. ‘The repetitious Beatle beat might put both the crowd and the Band members to sleep,’ he said.” Carey became very involved with the vocal program in the schools and production of various musicals, from which came many of the vocal solos with the MCB.    Terry Puehler  (pictured at left, provided by Pete Ulrich, principal, Highland High School), a member of the Medina City Schools’ music faculty, directed MCB for the 1971 season. Puehler had played trombone solos with the Band as far back as 1958. All in all, the MCB seasons during the past era and into the new era, were like the weather of the times, pleasant, placid, and predictable. Following the 1971-72 school year, Puehler resigned his position as head band director at Medina High School to take the position as head band director at Highland High School (Highland Local Schools).  

Dalton Indoor Band Concert Dalton Indoor Band Concert Dalton Indoor Band Concert
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Dalton Indoor Band Concert

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