There are two things we can count on every December at the Swan Lake Visitors Center:
- The phones will ring off the hook with people asking about the Fantasy of Lights, and
- The phones will ring off the hook with a question that we aren’t quite used to.
This year, we’ve been fielding quite a few calls regarding the annual Christmas Concert by the Sumter Community Concert Band—and that’s wonderful news to these talented local performers! One of the most anticipated shows of the holiday season will be taking place Thursday, December 6 at Patriot Hall.
And now for a little history (you had to know this was coming!): the Sumter Community Concert Band came together in 1982 to share their love for band music and performing. Since then, they have grown to an ensemble of approximately 50 musicians, and host a regular annual season of four to five shows. Band members come from Sumter, Shaw and the surrounding areas (including Florence and Columbia), all with the common goal of making a positive contribution to Sumter’s musical environment. That contribution consists of, as The Item Features Editor Ivy Moore once stated, “live music, played extremely well.” The group works regularly with the Sumter-Shaw Community Concert Association in bringing quality performances to the Sumter community, and is a member of the Association of Concert Bands. The band also features a Jazz Ensemble, which has attracted quite a devoted following of its own. It’s a hallmark of the band’s enthusiasm for their art that they tend to be full of surprises—an evening’s performance can be as briskly patriotic as a program of John Philip Sousa marches, or as whimsical as (and I’m not making this up) “Bugs Bunny’s Greatest Hits.”
Every year, the Christmas Concert delights and surprises music lovers with its varied program and masterful arrangements of contemporary and classic holiday songs, which in the past has ranged from “Greensleeves” to selections by Mannheim Steamroller. There is also a taste of the familiar in the annual performance of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” although the arrangement changes from one year to the next—a way of keeping this evergreen tune fresh and exciting for both performers and audience.
Under the capable leadership of President Arland Compton and Director James Mills, the band has grown both in size and popularity in recent years. If you are over eighteen and trained on your instrument, can read music, have prior band experience, and an itch to perform, the Community Concert Band is always on the lookout for new members. Current members represent quite an array of backgrounds—teachers, lawyers, farmers, pilots, homemakers, doctors, retirees, and others, ranging in age from just out of high school to if-I-know-I’d-better-not-tell. Above all, their common link is “a love for band music and a desire to share that love with the public.”
The Christmas Concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is FREE, and tickets are not required. Patriot Hall is located at 135 Haynsworth Street; the box office can be reached at (803) 436-2260.
With 30 seasons under their belt and quite a few charter members still on board, be prepared for an evening of pleasant surprises as the Sumter Community Concert Band rings in the season with musical cheer!