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Article updated: 7/19/2013 1:10 PM

Wheaton Band Festival returns to its roots with brass, concert bands

The Fox Valley Concert Band returns to the Wheaton Band Festival Saturday night.

The Fox Valley Concert Band returns to the Wheaton Band Festival Saturday night.



The Chicago Brass Band will kick off the 14th annual Wheaton Band Festival at Memorial Park Friday in Wheaton.

The Chicago Brass Band will kick off the 14th annual Wheaton Band Festival at Memorial Park Friday in Wheaton.


Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

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The Wheaton Band Festival returns to its roots this weekend by rolling out the brass and concert bands.

Organizer Gail Sonkin said that this year festival-goers can expect a return to the festival's traditional big band sounds after a brief foray into other band styles in recent years.


If you go

What: Wheaton Band Festival
When: 7:15 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 19, and 6 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 20
Where: Memorial Park in downtown Wheaton
Admission: Free

"This year we've made an effort to be more traditional than the festival has been in the past. We have more traditional concert band sounds to offer this year," Sonkin said.

"Also, the quality of bands is different because this year they are all top notch. Some years are not as good as others, but this year they're all top-notch bands.

Five bands are scheduled to take the stage Friday and Saturday, July 19 and 20, as part of the 14th annual Wheaton Band Festival. The free two-night event opens Friday with a 7:15 p.m. concert by the Chicago Brass Band in the band shell at Memorial Park, near Hale and Karlskoga streets in downtown Wheaton.

"They just completed a world competition in Holland, so they are considered one of the finest brass bands in the world," Sonkin said.

Then at 8:15 p.m. Friday, the award-winning Joliet American Legion Band will perform a variety of music, including patriotic marches, show tunes and contemporary pieces.

Saturday's evening of music will begin at 6 p.m. with a concert by the Fox Valley Concert Band. The Geneva-based all-volunteer band has performed in the festival every year since the annual tradition started.

The Switch Time Jazz Ensemble, based in Elk Grove, specializes in swing and Latin jazz and hits the stage at 7 p.m.

The North Shore Concert Band, under the direction of Mallory Thompson, will close the festival at 8 p.m. Saturday.

In between the live performances, children can visit the instrument petting zoo in the gazebo. Children will be allowed to pick up and ask questions about various musical instruments, such as trombones, trumpets and drums.

"It's very nice. The kids all get a chance to try out the instruments and band members will be helping them out," Sonkin said.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for kids to try out these horns and then see the professionals work so hard at making music with them."

If you own a band or orchestra instrument you no longer use, festival organizers will be accepting donations of musical instruments for the Salvation Army's youth music program.

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