Stonewall Brigade Band opens 130th season on June 4

newspaperIt all started when a young man moved to Staunton from the Winchester area.  David Drake had played in a band in Newtown—a sliver of a village between Stephens City and Kernstown, just south of Winchester.

Staunton didn’t have a band, so had to send to Churchville for a brass band for parades—6 miles on horseback and then find a band member to urge that member to bring the band to “town.”  Drake and his new friend Edwin Cushing decided to form a band for their own enjoyment, and so their town could have its own brass band.  They raised the money for instruments and persuaded August Turner, Drake’s music teacher in Newtown, to move to Staunton, even finding him a day job as music teacher at the Wesleyan Female Academy on Fayette Street.  The first band had 14 members: 11 brass including Professor Turner, a flute player, and two drummers.  It took a year to be ready for the first concert.

Today, 164 years later, the band has changed and grown.  It is now a fully instrumented concert band with the usual brass, woodwinds, and percussion, and 112 on the active roll with an average of 70 participating on each of the 12-14 Summer concerts. Over 140 pieces are played on the various concerts in a year.  Members, aged 12 to 84, come from Staunton, Augusta County, Waynesboro, Nelson County and other areas of Virginia and West Virginia to rehearse every Monday when they are not giving concerts. 70% of the members are non-native, having moved to the area, some specifically to join the band.

Staunton native Bob Moody is now in his 43rd year as conductor of the band, chooses all music, but shares his conducting duties with four assistant directors.  Ray Hoaster has been a band member 32 years and is retired from the United States Marine Band.  Jamie Taylor has been a member for 7 years after retiring with more than 30 years of service as band director at Stuarts Draft High School.  Pam Mason has been a member for 9 years, having formerly played with and organized promotions for the Talahassee FL symphony, and Kevin Haynes who joined last year as a trumpet player and has bloomed into a fine conductor this year.  The assistants will be conducting a majority of pieces on this years’s concert series, and Bob will be conducting some of his favorites.  Bob is continuing to handle the publicity, social media, recording, and communication for the band. Cindy Hosaflook continues in her long-held position as band librarian, handling well over 20,000 sheets of music each year. A board of directors manages The Stonewall Brigade Band Inc., a 501(c)(3) not for profit corporation, separate from the band itself, that serves as owner of all band property including music and instruments, a management entity for concerts employees and events, and as custodian of the band endowment.

Concerts are free, and start at 8 pm each Monday in June, July, and August, rain or shine in the Stonewall Brigade Bandstand in Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park.  Complete programs can be seen on the band’s web site www.stonewallbrigadeband.com.  The site also has a photo album including the early years to the present.  A history page highlights the various phases of band growth and change, and a Director’s Page lists the 15 directors in the band’s history with their education and experience.

Concessions are available at concerts for the convenience of our audience as well as to generate income for band operation.  The band is supported in part by the City of Staunton, the County of Augusta,  The Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, Donations by audience members, concert program advertising, and the Virginia Commission on the Arts.

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