In 1859, a group of people in Medina made a decision that would preserve a beloved aspect of local culture for years to come. They decided to form a town band, and young men from every walk of life eagerly purchased instruments and began studying sheet music. The concerts put on by the “Medina Brass Band” or “Medina Cornet Band” were well-attended opportunities to enjoy socializing and entertainment in the heart of the City of Medina.
Uptown Park, located at the center of Medina Public Square, was set aside for development in 1817 and was enclosed in a white picket fence at the time of the band’s founding. The musicians would often perform in a corner of the square before the first bandstand was erected in 1867, though they traveled across the county, performing in Litchfield, Lafayette, and other townships and villages. The group performed for holidays, parades, and political rallies. Notably, they also performed at reunions of Ohio Volunteer Infantry regiments from the Civil War.
Over the past 157 years, the band has gone through some remarkable changes. Now, they are known as the Medina Community Band, and both men and women of every background make up the 80-piece group. The band has been under the baton of 20 different directors, and it has entertained generations of musicians and music-lovers alike. Despite the band’s changes, at the core, it still serves as a celebration of small-town culture.
The current conductor, Marcus Neiman, has served the band for 43 years. As the longest-serving conductor in the history of the band, he explains that a deeply-rooted appreciation for the arts exists in Medina County and has made it easy for the band to thrive.
“Our fans are extremely loyal and many have attended concerts for generations, being brought to their first concert by their parents or grandparents and, in turn, bringing their children and grandchildren to concerts. Many fans attended concerts long before I became conductor and still come to the concerts now.”
The ensemble meets weekly each September through July. Each summer, the band performs weekly in the Medina Square Gazebo at the center of Uptown Park, drawing crowds of 700 to 1500 people. Though their summer concert season has come to a close, the group is currently preparing for their upcoming Veterans Day Concert, Winter Concert, and Spring Concert.
“Town bands are part of the social fabric of most American communities,” says Neiman. “The town band offers adult musicians the opportunity to perform for their community and to keep alive the music for the great American concert band.”
Though the group boasts nearly 100 members, they are still open to welcoming new musicians. They meet Wednesday evenings from 7 to 9 pm, and determine who will perform at each concert based on rehearsal attendance.
“The band is composed of members of the community who perform for the community,” says Neiman, who fondly explains that though the band has changed over the years, it remains a staple of Medina culture.
For more information on upcoming concerts, visit MedinaCommunityBand.org. Musicians interested in joining the group should contact Marcus Neiman at firstname.lastname@example.org.