Community band ready for summer of shows

Jul 1, 2021

After a silent 2020, the Dartmouth Community Band is more than ready to make its return to a summer of sound at Apponagansett Park starting July 6.

“People are eager to get on with their lives again,” percussionist Neil Sylvia said. “It’s been so terrible — school music programs didn’t really have as many outlets and we certainly know the plight of the professional musician last year.”

Rehearsals resumed June 22, when about 40 musicians gathered in the Dartmouth Middle School. 

Conductor John Furtado said that even after a year of no shows, band members have already begun to gel.

“It’s great, there’s no stress,” he said. “It’s like riding a bike.”

The band was first formed in 1974 and accepts people of all ages and abilities to come and play along. Some musicians are as young as 11 years old, while other members of the ensemble are professional musicians, teachers, and even a nurse who has played for decades.

“It’s a real cross-culture of everything,” Sylvia said.

Flautist Erica Davignon, a teacher at the DeMello School, said this was her first year playing with the community ensemble. She played as a student at New Bedford High and UMass Amherst, but had not performed on a flute since. 

Following the isolation of the pandemic, Davignon said she's eager to get back to performing.

“I missed playing,” she said.

Clarinet player Lori Pacheco, a nurse, said she was especially happy to be back with the community band — and to continue the tradition of playing the clarinet her grandfather first purchased in 1926 at the age of 13.

“I look forward to this every year,” she said.

During their first two practice sessions , the band members got to work preparing for their upcoming Fourth of July show at the Dartmouth Historical and Arts Society picnic.  Patriotic tunes like “God Bless the USA” and “Armed Forces on Parade” are on the set list.

“We’ve done it a couple of times,” Furtado said with a laugh. “Pretty much the same [set] almost every year.”

Assistant band director Maxwell Kane noted that this year, the band is adding more pop songs — including Fenway Park favorites like “Sweet Caroline” and “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” — to its usual set list of marching, concert band, and jazz tunes.

“We’re playing at a beach in the summer — we don’t want to play Shostakovich,” Sylvia said with a laugh. “We want to make sure that the people coming out to enjoy the beautiful Apponagansett Park get something out of it.” 

Shows will be performed every Tuesday at the park at 6:30 p.m. and are free to attend. The season will run from July 6 to Aug. 24.