OUR BAND

history

This band began on a January evening in 1979 when Lynn Cooper, then in his 10th year as a director of bands in the Ypsilanti schools, called together a group of his friends, former students, and EMU students. For several years, Dr. Cooper had felt a need within the community for an ensemble for adult musicians-a natural extension of his own successful public high school program. The band, named the Ypsilanti Community Band, filled that need.

After seven years as conductor of the band, Dr. Cooper left to accept a position in Kentucky. He was succeeded by Paul Stanifer, a recognized public band program organizer. When Mr. Stanifer resigned, Dr. Charles Lee, a former band director at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, took up the baton, followed by Ken Bowman in 1988. Mr. Bowman, a charter member of the band and retired high school band director, conducted the band through the next ten years of its history. Mr. Bowman retired at the end of the 1998 season and was succeeded by Dr. Jerry Robbins, who was conductor until Dr. Christopher Heidenreich took over direction of the band in 2011. Amy Sierzega served as Interim Conductor during the 2021–2022 season. The band's current Conductor and Music Director Dr. William Perrine began with the 2022–2023 season.

From its inception until 1998, the Ypsilanti Community Band rehearsed and performed its indoor concerts at Ypsilanti High School. However, in 1998 the band formed an alliance with the Department of Music at Eastern Michigan University. For the next several years, the Band was known during the indoor concert season as the "Barnhill Band" (named in honor of Prof. John F. Barnhill and an earlier community band) and the Band rehearsed at EMU and performed in Pease Auditorium. During the summers, the group performed as the "Ypsilanti Community Band" in various outdoor venues. Under the "Barnhill Band" arrangement, a number of EMU students joined townspeople in the ensemble, bringing the membership up to about 70. The "Barnhill Band" arrangement dissolved after four years, at which time the approximately 50 members of the Ypsilanti Community Band moved rehearsals and indoor performances to Washtenaw Community College. Later, the band moved its rehearsal space to West Middle School in Ypsilanti. Since September 2007, the band has rehearsed at Whitmore Lake High School.

The band has performed at numerous community events such as the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival, the Yankee Air Museum in Willow Run, Ypsilanti parks and Depot Town, various Washtenaw Community College (WCC) events, the Motor City Festival in Dearborn, Selfridge Air Guard Base in Macomb County, Concerts in the Park in Milan, with the Blue Lake International Southern Winds in Manchester, and for local fireworks displays. The band has also accepted invitations to perform at the Red Cedar Festival of Community Bands in Okemos eight times.

In June 2010, the YCB and WCC entered into a formal partnership to create the Washtenaw Community Concert Band. This arrangement allows the band to welcome WCC student players and provides performance space and support services.

The promotion of music education among the area’s youth is important to the band. Each year, the band sponsors the Kenneth Bowman Memorial Scholarship to the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and performs a joint concert with an area high school band. Since 2015, the band has sponsored an annual concerto competition for talented Washtenaw County high school band players, and more recently the Young Michigan Composers Concert Band Composition Contest.

The band performs approximately 6 concerts per year. Most performances are held at Towsley Auditorium or the Morris Lawrence Building Atrium at WCC. Recent concert venues have included Ann Arbor’s German Park, and Ypsilanti Community High School, and Lincoln High School. Additional community performances include its annual small ensemble concert and sponsorship of its vintage Town Band.

In 2014, to celebrate 35 years of music-making in Washtenaw County, the band commissioned and performed a new fanfare for wind band titled Daybreak Crossing by area composer Dr. David Biedenbender. In 2019, the band commissioned a new composition titled Star-Splitter by well-known composer and conductor James Curnow to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary. In the Spring of 2023, the band will premier Asylum Lake composed by Eric P. Szanto, 2021 winner of the Young Michigan Composers Concert Band Composition Contest sponsored by WCCB.

During the recent hiatus due to the pandemic, the band continued its musical growth and activities through virtual rehearsals and music education sessions, virtual ensemble concert, and its yearly traditions of scholarships, awards and competitions. The band is excited to return to its full season of playing together and providing the community with quality musical band experiences