Lisle Community Band opens 33rd season with American tunes

Lisle Community Band opens 33rd season with American tunes

  • Conductor Steve Green and the Lisle Community Band open their summer concert season Thursday night in Community Park.

    Conductor Steve Green and the Lisle Community Band open their summer concert season Thursday night in Community Park. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Posted6/25/2019 9:09 AM

The idea had been playing in the back of Steve Green's musical mind for a long time.

This was in the 1980s and Green had been directing the Lisle High School band for five or six years, but he had this nagging feeling he could be doing more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He enjoyed working with high school musicians and watching many go off to college, but then, that's where the music often ended.

His former students got jobs, they had families, and many stashed their trombones and tubas and trumpets in the back of the closet.

The more he thought about it, the more Green wanted to do something to convince some of those folks to dust off their instruments and rediscover the joy of performing.

His solution? In 1987 he created the Lisle Community Band.

It must have been a good idea, because on Thursday evening the band will open its 33rd summer concert season in Community Park with the first of five free concerts.

The 70-member group features a wide range of musicians, from high schoolers to retirees to an Argonne physicist who plays with about a half-dozen ensembles.

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"We draw people back into playing who haven't played for 15 years," he says. "We want people who played in high school to come back and not be afraid."

Unlike some municipal bands, there are no auditions in Lisle, although Green does look at would-be members' experience levels to help place them in the right spot.

The band rehearses twice before each concert and the shows usually feature Broadway show tunes, movie themes and "light classics" -- pieces you probably couldn't name but that you'll recognize from commercials or even cartoons,

And, yes, there is always at least one march because, for the love of John Philip Sousa, if you're going to have a community band concert without a march you might as well not have a community band concert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The shows usually draw a few hundred fans and the setting is pretty much what you'd expect if you've ever seen "The Music Man" or an "Andy Griffith Show" episode.

"It's a throwback and a tradition," Green says. "It's family and it's music in a relaxed atmosphere. It's a social event that goes back to Sousa's time."

But don't underestimate the musicianship taking place on the park district band shell stage. Each performance features around 10 pieces, and at least a couple are there not only to entertain the audience, but to challenge some pretty talented performers and keep them interested.

Green, who retired from Lisle High School in 2011, says one of his favorite parts of each Thursday night performance is a raffle in which an audience member wins the chance to direct the band in a march. Sometimes it's a kid, sometimes it's an adult. Sometimes the guest conductor has an idea of what they're doing, sometimes they don't.

The joke among band members is that it really doesn't matter.

"They like to tell me they don't follow the audience conductor any more than they do me," Green says.

Whoever they're following, here's a look at the band's summer schedule at the band shell just east of Sea Lion Aquatic Park at 1825 Short St.:

• 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27: American popular and patriotic music; "Wizard of Oz" medley

• 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11: Mozart, Broadway and Ragtime

• 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18: "Light Cavalry Overture," music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and a Benny Goodman medley

• 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25: Disney's "Fantasia," Stravinsky's "The Firebird," and a "Star Trek" medley

• 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1: Lisle Community Jazz Band featuring music of the big bands

In case of inclement weather, the concerts move inside the Lisle High School auditorium.

For details, visit lislecommunityband.org.

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