Powerful basslines and flowing melodies filled the auditorium of the Bella Vida senior center Monday night as the Santa Clarita Valley Concert Band rehearsed in preparation for their upcoming show.
According to Brian Wilcher, president of the concert band and one of the original members, the band was formed in 1984 by local musicians who could not find any other band or musical outlet like it in the area. Back then, Wilcher said, there were only 12 members in the band.
“I really love the music we play and the people who are in this band,” WIlcher said. “Live music makes everything better. Audiences love it and it adds a special tone to any event you do. Back when we were a smaller band it was easier to go to more shows, but we do the best we can and all love playing music.”
Currently the band has approximately 40 members of all ages from high schoolers to musicians in their 80s. Band members have varying levels of skill from hobbyists to professional musicians and come from as far as Glendale to play. The band practices each Monday year-round and has between six to eight performances per year, including Christmas concerts and Memorial Day services at Eternal Valley Memorial Park Mortuary.
The band’s upcoming show, “Hey, Batter! Swing!” will play at the Canyon Theatre Guild on Nov. 9 and will be a collection of songs relating to the theme of baseball.
Tim Durand is the band’s musical conductor and has also been its conductor since he joined the band in 1996.
“We play everything from classical to rock music and people really seem to like it when we play swing or pop music,” Durand said. “We’re the only full concert band in the Santa Clarita Valley. A lot of times people play up until high school and college then put away their instruments until they retire, then pick it up again, and having a band like this around allows people to continue to play all throughout their lives.”
Mark Malone has been a member of the band for about 15 years along with his wife, and at one point with his son as well. Malone plays trombone, baritone and percussion.
“I love playing with this band here because it’s one night that I don’t have to practice. Practicing is important but doing exercises can be dull, and coming here to play with the other musicians adds a great social aspect,” Malone said. “We play a lot of different styles and I like how Tim challenges us with a lot of the music he chooses. Having a band in a community is like having one for the military. It helps raise the pride and morale for this community.”