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Woodstock City Band celebrates 130 years

Crowd gathers for annual patriotic concert

Published: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 11:53 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, July 3, 2014 2:51 p.m. CDT
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(Kyle Grillot - kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Composer Michael Sweeney of Milwaukee warms up on the tin whistle in between songs Wednesday during the Woodstock City Band performance celebrating 130 years of existence. Sweeney composed and directed “Spring City Overture,” an overture written in part like a march to commemorate the band’s longstanding history. The McHenry County Community Foundation awarded $4,000 to the city of Woodstock to commission Sweeney’s musical composition.
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(Kyle Grillot - kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Brass players debut an original piece during Wednesday’s concert celebrating the Woodstock City Band's 130th year of existence.
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(Kyle Grillot - kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Scott Hettinga of Woodstock performs the debut of an original piece during the Woodstock City Band performance celebrating its 130th year of existence. Michael Sweeney composed and directed “Spring City Overture,” an overture written in part like a march to commemorate the band’s longstanding history. The McHenry County Community Foundation awarded $4,000 to the city of Woodstock to commission the piece.
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(Kyle Grillot - kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Conductor Duane Peiffer directs the Woodstock City Band in the debut of an original piece during Wednesday's concert.
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(Kyle Grillot - kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Rick Buechler holds his granddaughters Violet Levato, 2, and Lilly Levato, 4, during the Woodstock City Band’s performance celebrating 130 years of existence.
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(Kyle Grillot - kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Heather Nicolas of Lake in the Hills holds her children Noella, 3, and Logan, 5, during the Woodstock City Band's performance celebrating its 130th year of existence.
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(Kyle Grillot - kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Luise Tipps of Crystal Lake cheers on her sons Gary and Greg Tipps while the play with the Woodstock City Band.

WOODSTOCK – It felt more mid-April than Fourth of July.

Nonetheless, a sizable, jacket-clad crowd sunk its lawn chairs into the damp ground at Woodstock Square Park on Wednesday evening for the Woodstock City Band’s annual patriotic concert, one of eight shows the band will play this summer.

Wednesday’s took on the added caveat of a special celebration for the band’s 130th year in existence.

They debuted an original piece commissioned by noted composer Michael Sweeney to commemorate the milestone.

The city also read a proclamation.

“It’s just such a great American tradition,” said Linda Rosquist, who curled into a chair next to her husband, Walt. The Woodstock couple has been coming regularly to the band’s shows for about 10 years, and sporadically before that.

“It’s wonderful to be in a small, Midwest town and get to enjoy something like this,” she said.

The band has played a significant community-building role in Woodstock since the 1800s – and, before technological advances that brought entertainment into households and eventually to fingertips, maybe a heightened one.

When a new post office opened in Woodstock, the city band played for hours. When troops returned from war, they were greeted by the band’s music, Opera House Director John Scharres said.

“We’re continuing a very important piece of history here in Woodstock,” Scharres said. “Anything important that happened in the community always included the band playing with it.”

It wasn’t always called the Woodstock City Band – that name, Scharres estimates, latched on about 75 years ago. At one point, the group was named the Spring City Band. That was back when Woodstock was called the Spring City for its well – water from which was believed to possess healing, medicinal powers, Scharres said.

The title of Sweeney’s piece, “Spring CIty Overture,” harkened back to that period.

Wednesday’s weather might of had the town once again thinking it was the spring city. Temperatures hovered in the mid-50s for the 7:30 p.m. start. Gray clouds blanketed the sky. Concertgoers blanketed themselves.

It was better than the alternative for one glass half-full attendee.

“This is the better option than hot and humid,” said Diane Felice, of Huntley, who watched with her friend Peg Southgate, also of Huntley. “I like it.”

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