Whether itís an antique clock or a stately old house, perhaps you have felt the sense of satisfaction that comes from restoring and breathing life into some relic of a bygone day. That same preservationist philosophy is the driving force behind the Compton Heights Concert Band of St. Louis and our efforts to promote and perform the fine concert band literature of yesteryear.
The band was founded in 1976 by band President, Harry Swanger, who formed the band to provide music for Compton Heights neighborhood events. The band started in his livingroom with just a handful of musicians. The original conductor was Kaid Friedel who was a French Hornist in the St. Louis Symphony for many years.
Today, the band numbers over 60 volunteer, student and professional musicians who annually present 15 concerts in St. Louis and outstate Missouri.
The band began an eight week summer concert series in 1980 in Tower Grove Park and added a sister series in Francis Park in 1986. These concerts, dubbed Sunday Serenades & Musical Mondays, attract 25,000 listeners annually. The Band played in a new series in July 2013 at the Purser Auditorium, Logan Chiropractic College, Chesterfield, Missouri, Sousa Sundays. Under the auspices of the Missouri Arts Council Touring Program the band has toured in outstate Missouri and has been acclaimed by audiences in Hermann, Joplin, Farmington, St. Peters, Cape Girardeau, and Ste. Genevieve. In 1998, the Band added annual Powell Symphony Hall December pops concerts. In 2012 the Holiday concert was at the Peabody Opera House.
Featuring John Philip Sousa-style programs, each concert includes outstanding soloists. Some of the nationís most talented musicians have appeared, including Peter Nero; Stoneback Sisters, Those Darn Accordions, David Morris (World Champion Whistler), Project Trio; Doc Severensen; Red Lehr & the St. Louis Rivermen; Geoffrey Gallante; Arturo Sandoval; Nicole Cabell, Soprano (2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World); Keith Brion, world-renowned Sousa portrayer, Sigrun Hjalmtysdottir, Icelandic soprano; Sukay-music of the Andes, Pachamama, Bolivian, and Cuban Band; Doc Severensen; Ricardo Morales; Alex Klein; Cameron Carpenter; Robert Ellison; the late William Warfield; Debbye Turner; Buckwheat Zydeco; the Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra; The BNFL British Brass Band; Beverly Stewart Anderson; Gail Lennon & the Lennon Brothers; Cameron Carpenter; Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano; the Rebirth Brass Band; and tenor, Hugh Smith.
The Band appeared on its own TV show "Sunrise Serenades" which aired for a year on KMOV-TV, CBS Affiliate with Harry Swanger and the band mascot, Moosic! For a segment from that show featuring the late Johnnie Johnson, see "Sunrise Serenades" on YouTube.
Edward Dolbashian, conductor, is the orchestra and opera conductor at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He also conducts the St. Louis Civic Orchestra. He was appointed conductor of the Compton Heights Concert Band in September, 1998. He is a professional oboist.
The announcer is Lucy Schroeder, wife of band vice-president and tubist Jon Schroeder. Lucy injects a lively sense of humor and energy into concerts and helps the audience gain a deeper appreciation of the music the band is presenting.
Volunteers in the band contribute over 15,000 hours annually to make the concerts possible. In addition to weekly rehearsals and the busy concert schedule, many members have devoted thousands of volunteer hours at the Band's charity bingos at Bandwagon Hall, 2151 Lemay Ferry Road. The Band is supported by individual donors who join the Bandwagon. The band is also supported by the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council. Special Thanks to The Orthopedic Center of Saint Louis.
Kitty Swanger administrates the Band's Facebook page. To see Kitty in "Kitty's Kitchen" see Sweat & Sour MeatBalls