BANGOR — As a child, Christine Mihan came to hear the Bangor Band perform at the gazebo in Paul Bunyan Park.
On Tuesday night, Mihan attend the band’s last concert at the gazebo with her husband, Eric Mihan, and her 13-month-old daughter, Nella, all of Bangor.
“It’s sad, very, very sad,” she said as the band played the opening notes of “The Star Spangled Banner.” “I still enjoy the band when they move to Chapin Park but this park holds a lot of childhood memories for me.”
The gazebo has been home to the Bangor Band since the structure was built in 1976 by three local service groups — the Lions, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs. This week, it will be torn down to make room for the city’s new arena. Although the statue of Paul Bunyan will remain untouched, the trees and the fountain in the park also will be removed to make way for the new structure, according to Tracy Willette, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation for the city.
Parks and Rec sponsors the Bangor Band.
The band will play July 12 at the site used for the Bangor Waterfront Concert Series, conductor Fredric Goldrich said Tuesday.
“You are truly an asset and we are proud to have you in the community,” Willette said after the national anthem but before the concert got under way.
He presented Goldrich with a plaque to “acknowledge and commemorate” the band’s final concert at the gazebo.
Willette said that members of his department and Cianbro, the Pittsfield construction firm selected to build the new arena, seriously considered moving the gazebo to a new location.
“We all concluded that the structure just would not survive the move,” he said Tuesday. “We’re working on short-term and long-term plans to find the band a new home [for summer performances].”
The band never has failed to offer a concert season in its 153-year history.
Before moving to Paul Bunyan Park, concerts were held at the bandstand in Davenport Park, located on the corner of Main and Cedar streets.
Rita Bigelow attended concerts there with her parents in the 1950s and in Paul Bunyan Park as an adult.
“It doesn’t matter where they have them,” Bigelow said. “Chapin Park is good, too.”
The first incarnation of the band was formed in the winter of 1859 with instruments handed down from a defunct band, according to a history posted on the organization’s website.
“Billed as the Bangor Comet Band, the group performed in no fewer than 60 engagements, from cotillions to soirees to parades,” the history states of the group’s first year.
Within a few years, however, members had new instruments purchased by a local women’s club.
“During the era of the Civil War, the band became a regimental band attached to first the
Second Maine Infantry and later the Fourteenth Maine Regiment,” according to the website. “It was in its latter obligation that the band had the distinction of having been present in February 1865 when Union forces recaptured Fort Sumter from the Confederacy. The band would maintain military connections, both with active duty engagements and later with the Maine National Guard until the end of [World War] I.”
Its repertoire has changed with the times, the band’s history states. Marches, quick steps and quadrilles were played during its first 50 years. The organization’s library includes classical and operatic music, swing and fox trot dance tunes, Broadway show tunes and movie scores, and popular music that has filled the airwaves over the past 50 years.
The program for Tuesday’s concert included selections by Ludwig van Beethoven, Stephen Sondheim and R.B. Hall, a nationally known march composer with ties to Bangor.
The Bangor Band’s 2011 remaining performance schedule is:
- 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, Bangor Waterfront.
- 7 p.m Tuesday, July 19, Bangor Waterfront.
- 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, 17th annual Neighborhood Block Party, Chapin Park.
- 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, Cascade Park.
- 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, the concert finale at the Bangor Waterfront.