DANVILLE – For nine Sundays plus one entire weekend this summer, the Danville Municipal Band will entertain anyone who wants to come and listen – for free.
A program of the city of Danville, the band rehearses on Thursday evenings at Trinity Lutheran Church and performs at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. on Sundays from June 3 through Aug. 5, with a couple of exceptions.
On June 17, the band will celebrate its 68th anniversary with an indoor concert at Holy Family Church, 444 E. Main St., and on July 13, 14 and 15, will accompany the production of the "Wizard of Oz" by the Lincoln Park Theater Company.
Musicians are paid for their time to rehearse and perform as a quality of life program from the city to its citizens.
"We have used the same themes for a number of years," said David Schroeder, band director. "But we try to bring back favorites and switch things up with some new music each week."
The anniversary concert is a time to celebrate the band's longevity and to bring a little more serious content to the music being played, he said.
Schroeder is excited about the band's second appearance as the accompanists for the Lincoln Park Theater Company. Last year, the musicians took on the "Cats" score.
"Last year we were off to one side under a tent, but this year we'll be on the stage," he enthused of plans to try to elevate the musicians as part of the set for the musical.
The municipal band has acted as a place for music teachers to have a place to play, since so often they spend their time teaching and not playing for their own pleasure with a group. Half a dozen area high school music instructors are members.
Also performing are seasoned veterans who don't have other opportunities to play, along with high school students just wanting more playing time and musical experience.
"I wouldn't miss one of their concerts," said Jane Starbody of Danville. "There's a variety of music and it's so wonderful. I love it when they do show tunes."
Starbody usually comes with friends and brings her own chair to the park although there are some Danville Parks and Recreation Department benches always available.
"It's always nice in the park," Starbody said. "It could be 95 or 100 degrees and it would still be nice."
Sharon McMahon agrees. McMahon and her husband, Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon, take her mother regularly.
"It's something we can do together," she said. "We can take a picnic and just sit back, relax and listen."
The addition to Lincoln Park of the covered stage known as the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center has added to the quality of the sound, and with it the crowd.
"The band shell makes a big difference," Starbody said. "The crowd just keeps growing and growing."