SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – The Springfield Community Band’s first concert of this 75th year coincided with Gov. Scott lifting all Covid restrictions for fully vaccinated people. It has been a hard time for the band with no concert season at all due to Covid last year. Despite their most recent concert July 27 being rained out, the Springfield Community Band has three more concerts scheduled this year, Aug. 10, 17, and 24, all at the Riverside Bandstand 7:30 p.m.
Band President Karen Mather says, “I’m very happy with how the season has progressed this year. There was a lot of uncertainty at the start, but once Vermont opened up to allow larger gatherings, we were able to safely bring everyone together to begin rehearsals. A lot of the credit goes to Andy Bladyka from the Springfield Parks and Rec for helping us to find a location to rehearse and then working with us to get the bandstand at Riverside into great shape for the concerts. We have a great group of musicians and audience has been larger than it has been in at least 20 years.”
For the 2019 summer season, the band performed most of its concerts at the Hartness House in an events tent adjacent to the restaurant deck. There were chairs and tables both under the tent and on the deck with access to the bar. That gave the whole experience a sort of Boston Pops summer concert feel.
Vice President Barbara Rogers says, “For years, it has been our dream to become a year-round band. We actually realized that dream in the fall of 2019 when we started a winter rehearsal session that was aimed at a big concert to be held in April. We almost made it, but Covid shut us down on March 17. Sadly, the Hartness House has also been a victim of the pandemic and is still closed. But the band is back at its former bandstand at Riverside Park where its summer concerts have the old concert in the park feel. There can be an almost magical feeling to an outdoor concert on a beautiful Vermont summer evening, and it can be treasured by young and old alike.”
The community and town band tradition was brought to this country in our early days. The St. Johnsbury Community Band, founded in 1830, claims to be the oldest in Vermont. Community band popularity grew with a spirit of patriotism during the Civil War and the later World Wars. The current Springfield Community Band traces its roots to two bands that were sponsored by the Fellows Gear Shaper Company during World War II. After the war, some of the players stayed together and were joined by some high school musicians to form a fully uniformed marching and concert band performing in this area and beyond.
In 1947 the people of Springfield voted to have the town underwrite the band. Over the years they have played all over Vermont and even at Vermont Day at Fenway Park in Boston in 1958 and once aboard the steamship Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain. In 1981 they became just a concert band.
This year, Rogers says, “We are also experimenting with adding selections played by small groups in addition to numbers played by the full band. We have a saxophone quartet, a jazz ensemble, and a flute sextet.”
Mather adds, “The key to our success has been to keep an open mind, be creative, and be willing to adapt to the changing times… Once the summer season ends, we are hoping to resume rehearsals in the fall and perform a winter concert.”