It’s Sunday evening; the weather is warm and I am relaxing in the shade outside. “Where?” you might ask. Pueblo Community College, of course. No, I’m not THAT devoted to school; I take off the summers. I’m here, along with a couple hundred other attendees, waiting for a local tradition to grace my ears with its sweet harmonic sounds: The Pueblo Municipal Band.
The Municipal Band is celebrating its 100th year in action! This band is one of the United States’ oldest professional music ensembles, and the spirit that keeps this band alive stands out in each of the performers. To David Moore, trombone player for the band, the group’s significant contribution to our community is that “it [Pueblo Municipal Band] gives the public a chance to embrace music that isn’t on the radio.”
In 1913, the City of Pueblo, along with Pueblo Local #69 of the American Federation of Musicians, started a legacy; it was called the Sinclair CowBoy Band. The band had a variety of conductors, but in 1947 L.E. “Dick” Smith took command and changed the band’s name to Pueblo Municipal Band. During this year the band experienced another change and gained co-sponsorship by the Performance Trust Fund of the Federation. From here the band increased in size to 52 members. In 2003, the band hit turmoil when it experienced budget cuts by the City of Pueblo.
Executive director, John Falsetto, oversees all of the group’s operations and organizes each season. He has been performing with the band for the last twenty-five years on baritone saxophone and openly acknowledges that local businesses are the reason this ensemble comes back to us each summer season.
“To have had such a positive standing in the community for 100 years is practically unheard of in music groups, so it is quite the achievement for this band to have reached 100 years with the intention of moving well past this 100th year,” Falsetto said. Thanks to the unwavering support of local businesses and donations, the community’s band has continued to thrive.
The Pueblo Municipal Band we know today contains sixty-five non-compensated members. All of these musicians are performing because they have a passion to produce captivating sounds, and isn’t everything better when it’s made with love? Just like mom’s chicken noodle soup; only this is music with love. The inviting scene the band creates is one in which David Moore feels fortunate to participate. “It makes me really proud to be a part of a tradition this prestigious. It’s nice playing with individuals that care so much for the music.”
Conductor, Mark Emery, agrees with David. One of his favorite things about this ensemble are the individuals that participate. The people that make up the band might not be whom you would expect. They are business people, teachers, students, and, of course, professional musicians; all of whom range in age from sixteen to eighty-five. Emery’s enthusiasm is apparent when he says, “I just can’t think of a more fun thing to do.” The students that participate in this group are apprentices and many of them are well on their way to earning music degrees. They gain valuable experience performing at a professional level, but a word of recommendation is required by a qualified music teacher before one can participate. Falsetto feels strongly this is an excellent alternative for our communities’ young musicians. Due to schools experiencing budget cuts, these musicians might otherwise miss out on the opportunity to perform with and for the people.
Each performance features the entire concert ensemble and every other performance highlights the Pueblo Municipal Jazz Band. For its 100th season the group is emphasizing the evolution of music through increments of time with each concert taking you through fifteen years of eclectic musical magic.
With 100 years of music contributions what Pueblo’s Municipal Band does best is to fill the quiet neighborhood near Orman Avenue with music. All that’s missing is a gazebo, the boater hats and a time machine, but we have the music for that.
— Vera Coleman