O'Fallon Community Concert Band Begins Season
Director of the O'Fallon Community Concert Band Gene Garza always makes room for more members.
Gene Garza is dedicated to music.
Garza has been the director of the O’Fallon Community Concert Band since 1997. In addition to conducting the concert band, Garza also directs the O’Fallon Jazz Band and plays with the St. Charles County Symphony.
The concert band has been practicing since the first week in April, but Garza said the door is still open for any musician who would like to play. The only two requirements are an instrument and the desire to play. There is no cost to band members.
Practices are held each Monday from now until the end of August at the O’Fallon Senior Center. This year, the band is scheduled to play at six different community events between May and September.
“People are always welcome to come play with us and people are always welcome to come listen to us play,” Garza said.
Currently, there are about 65 names on his band list, with about 35 regular practice attendees. The numbers ebb and flow as the season progresses, but Garza expects more members to attend practice regularly as the concert season approaches.
Most members return to play with the band year after year, he said.
Members range in age from 13 years to more seasoned older adults. Garza said that all instruments and sections are well represented this year.
Garza picks all of the music selections for the band. The band’s repertoire is varied, ranging from show tunes and Hollywood tunes to patriotic music plus everything in between. Garza said he loves Hollywood tunes.
Typically, Garza selects music to match the event.
“If we are doing a concert at the Veteran’s Memorial, we stick with more patriotic music,” he said.
The dedication to music is somewhat of a family affair. Nancy Garza, Gene’s wife, also plays clarinet for the O’Fallon Community Concert Band. With a smile, Nancy Garza said that sometimes Gene even lets her conduct the band if he is playing his trombone for a particular piece or selection.
Nancy Garza is a seasoned band director in her own right. She has directed the St. Charles Municipal Band since 1993.
Nancy is proud of her husbands dedication to bringing music to the community. “His talents always amaze me. His directing skills and dedication make him a joy to be around," she said.
According to the City of O’Fallon’s website, the idea of a community band began in 1891 with an area-wide band competition. Five municipal bands from the surrounding areas competed for cash prizes.
O’Fallon’s first mayor, Fred Jacoby, Sr. fostered the community band concept by forming the O’Fallon Coronet Band in the early 1900s. Jacoby taught participants how to play and the band could be heard on weekends in front of his store, the Jacoby Pharmacy on Main Street.
The current community concert band was formed in 1988 and continues to entertain O’Fallon at city functions each summer.
This summer, the band will perform six different times with more days possibly added.
- Armed Forces Day on May 21, 10:30 a.m. at the Veteran’s Memorial Walk
- Memorial Day on May 30 at 11 a.m. at the Veteran’s Memorial Walk
- June 28 and August 2 at 7:15 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the O’Fallon Jammin’ in Civic Park
- July 4 at 9:30 a.m. at the Heritage and Freedom Fest Parade
- Labor Day, Sept. 5 at 2 p.m. at Civic Park
For more information about joining the band, contact Gene Garza at 636-949-2590, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Practices are held at 7 p.m. each Monday at the O'Fallon Senior Center.