Community Band honored with donations from two local organizations

Jan 13, 2023

The Dartmouth Community Band was honored with donations from two local organizations on Friday, Jan. 13 in a ceremony at the Maria Connor Center for Active Living.

Neil Sylvia, a longtime percussionist in the band who is also a part of its informal management team, accepted the checks from the Friends of the Elderly and Veterans’ Advisory Board on behalf of the band.

Sylvia said that the twin $200 donations would go towards purchasing sheet music for the band, and potentially funding some small scholarships for local students studying music.

“We really don’t have a lot of overhead,” Sylvia said of the volunteer group. “It’s just another way of giving back to the community, and we certainly don’t get paid.”

The donations come following a year in which the band expanded its presence in the community, marching in the town’s Memorial Day parade for the first time and performing at the Maria Connor Center on Veterans’ Day.

“They’re an asset here in town,” said Dartmouth Veterans’ Services Officer Matt Brouillette. “We’re blown away by how well they perform, and they did all the military hymns — who does that?”

Sylvia said the band was proud to have been able to contribute to such important events.

“For us to be called in for the men and women in uniform, it’s just such an honor,” he said.

Brouillette explained that the idea for the donation was first raised by the town’s Veterans’ Advisory Board. He added that the Dartmouth Friends of the Elderly were quick to join the cause.

“As soon as we heard [the Veterans’ Advisory Board] was making a donation, we wanted to match it,” said Maria Connor, president of the Friends of the Elderly.

Sylvia said that the band has been looking to expand its work in Dartmouth for some time, and that last year “it finally came to fruition.”

“It’s more than just a concert series in the summer,” he said. “We want it to be a part of the community of the town.”

He added that the band was looking to do something special for its 50th anniversary next year.

Sylvia credited his fellow band leaders, Launey Helley and director John Furtado for helping to bring the group to where it is today.