Community Band Spotlight May 2009: Asheville Community Band May 18 2009, 0 Comments


Each month Altissimo! searches across the country for a community band that has something special about it, whether it be something they’re doing in the community or just an outstanding achievement for the band. Asheville Community Band The Asheville Community Band of Asheville, NC, was started in 1979 under the umbrella of the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The band’s stated mission was to encourage interest in music and to broaden appreciation of the various musical styles and sounds unique to a concert band. Now, after thirty years of continuous performances with a roster of 102 members, the band has over 90 volunteer musicians at every concert. Members range in age from a few very talented high school age students to active retirees in their eighties including six charter members! In addition to four local performances each season, the band has traveled as far as Hawaii, Germany, and Austria for concert tours. The Asheville Community Band has performed at national conventions for band directors and twice for the North Carolina Bandmasters Association’s state convention. Upcoming performances include a free (and popular!) Memorial Day tribute, honoring the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. This concert also features the city’s high school JROTC, who present the colors and assist guests with parking. Several of the band members were involved in the various military branches and about 10 of them played in the bands at their bases.  One is currently in the USMC music program in the school of music at Cherry Point, NC. Another joined the Navy in 1945 at just 16 years of age and played until he was reassigned to an aircraft carrier. Two were members of the US Army Bands during their service, the 316th during the Korean War, and the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii in the 1960s. The Asheville Community Band enjoys playing a variety of music together. Their conductor, currently Michael L. Robinson (see below), selects the music with suggestions from his band. The repertoire includes hymns, marches, show tunes, band standards, and new music that is fun for everyone! Under his leadership, the band created a scholarship program to encourage and aide students who are pursuing degrees in instrumental music education. Over twenty $1,000 scholarships have been awarded since 1996 to deserving students, the funding of which comes solely through ticket sales and donations. Scholarship Recipients ACB Scholarship Recipients Mr. Robinson, the band’s director since 1996, recently completed a 30-year career as a high school band director and is currently the Director of Bands at Mars Hill College.  He continues serving as a church music director, a position he has held for 22-years.  After reading his bio, it’s obvious that music runs in his veins!  Mr. Robinson has been honored with many awards throughout his career. In addition to merit honors, citations of excellence, and involvement with professional music organizations, he has also been President of the North Carolina Band Directors Assoc. and was inducted into their Hall of Fame. The band’s founder and first director, Patricia L. Garren, is also a multiple award-winning conductor. Now Director Emeritus, Mrs. Garren’s honors include being the first woman elected as President of the North Carolina Bandmasters Association. She received the Women Band Directors International Golden Rose Award and most recently received their highest honor; induction into their Hall of Fame.  Each year, one of the band’s scholarships is presented in her name. Led by two upstanding directors over its 30-year span, the Asheville Community Band has a rich heritage of excellence. It carries on this tradition by giving eligible students a helping hand via the scholarship program and by giving young and old musicians alike an opportunity to participate in and keep the arts alive in their community. For the quality of their efforts, we proudly present them as the Community Band Spotlight for May 2009. If you’d like to listen to the Asheville Community Band or find further information, please visit their website. *Special thanks to the Asheville Community Band and Stephanie Lyon for taking the time to help us write this Spotlight and for supplying photos! *If there is a band you would like to see featured in the Community Band Spotlight, please email Krista at with the subject “Spotlight Suggestion”