BANGOR, Maine — One of the oldest continuous community bands in the country will be doing more than just playing music as it conducts its 153rd season as a traveling band next week.
No, the Bangor Band is not becoming a marching band. It is, however, playing all 11 performances on its annual summer concert series at six different venues, not including its beloved gazebo — formerly located on the front grounds of the Bangor Auditorium — as it evaluates potential new permanent home sites.
“We got together a few times this winter and evaluated a few sites with them,” said Tracey Willette, Bangor Parks and Recreation Department director.
The band will play Peirce Park alongside the Bangor Public Library Tuesday, Pickering Square the week after, Fairmount Park on June 26, and the Bangor Veteran’s Home on July 3. The other locations, some of which will be used more than once, are Husson University’s Gracie Theatre grounds and Chapin Park. All concerts start at 7 p.m.
“There may be other locations because the city may want us to check out a location on the waterfront, for example,” said Sue McKay, trumpet player and band treasurer. “Last year, we played on the big stage, and that was different.”
The band’s gazebo was demolished last fall as work crews began preparing the site of Bangor’s new civic arena and events center.
“When the gazebo came down last year, we thought we were the orphans in the storm,” said band president Lori Wingo. “Now we’re very excited about the idea of playing in Pickering Square. I feel it’s a great location to be right downtown and I think it could increase our audience.”
While there is no blueprint or design for a new gazebo, a fundraising effort for a new one has already begun.
Stephen and Tabitha King have donated $25,000 toward the construction of a new gazebo. The Bangor City Council will vote to approve the donation Monday night.
“The King Foundation has come forward with a very generous donation to build a replacement,” said Willette. “We’re still evaluating thoughts and concepts, and what it may cost, but at the very least, I would guess around $50,000 to $75,000.”
In the meantime, members of the band and their fans will be evaluating the locations in an effort to pick a permanent site to build a new gazebo to perform from in 2013. The public will be invited to weigh in online, and likely will be given surveys to fill out inside the concert programs.
“This will give us a sense of what it’s like to play in the different areas and gather feedback,” said Valerie Carter, clarinet player and Bangor Band’s marketing and promotions representative.
On rain days, the band will be able to play inside Husson’s Gracie Theatre.
The band will play Pickering four times and Husson three.
“Husson offers us the flexibility to play inside or out,” said McKay. “A big part of what determines where we go is the physical part of it. For instance, if we don’t fit in Pickering Square, we won’t be able to locate there.”
The band has gotten bigger and younger in the offseason, going from 40 members to 50.
“We went on a recruitment campaign after several members died over the last year, and the average age of the band has dropped significantly,” McKay said. “We’re very excited to have some of the younger members and are introducing more variety with our music.
“We’re even going to play a Lady Gaga song.”