MADISON — In 1981, when the late Dr. Elmer Ziegler passed on, word has it that he felt his efforts to establish a lasting professional community band in Madison would not live on so he willed his 10,000-piece library to the Music Museum in Vermillion South Dakota. That being said, little did he realize that when he asked UW Professor Jim Latimer to “help out” during [Ziegler’s] illness, the band would live on. With the encouragement of the late Raymond F. Dvorak, Latimer made the decision to continue the then 12-year-old tradition of concerts in the park in Madison.
“We just kind of limped along,” said Latimer, referring to the loss of the Ziegler library to the Shrine to Music. But with the help of Dvorak and others, and the Ziegler philosophy that “every city and town in America should have a concert band,” the Capitol City Band slowly built up library, personnel, equipment and a fantastic team of volunteers and supporters.
Now 33 years later, “we will celebrate this milestone achievement,” says an enthusiastic Latimer, paraphrasing a line in Forrest Gump, “Music is what music does…and we are doing it!” He couldn’t say enough about the power and message in music and all that music brings to the audiences at Rennebohm Park, which, by the way, are attended by the young and the young at heart, from 2 to 102, from all walks of life and from as many as 4-5 counties and 30 cities, villages and towns, and often out-of-state. And yet, it may be one of Madison’s own best kept secrets.
The Capitol City Band musicians are some of the finest in and around Dane County.
They are a professional reading band which means the band does not have the time nor the money to rehearse before each concert. What you hear is what you get. Latimer says “we rely on the dedication, expertise and talent of each musician at each concert. Every concert is a new program of music. The band holds three rehearsals in early June before the summer season begins.
The band is certain to “put on the ritz” at Rennebohm Park on Thursday, August 1 as the Capitol City Band celebrates concert number 800. The highlight work will feature the Wisconsin Dells Singers and Dancers (musicians of the Ho Chunk Nation) in a piece written by the late Kenneth Funmaker set to music with band by Jim Latimer and arranged by Madison’s Frank Ferriano. According to Latimer, the Ho Chunk musicians, Leader-Elliott Funmaker, will drum and sing Soldier Chief’s Song to an integrated band arrangement that will be played by the Capitol City Band. The Ho Chunk dancers in full regalia will do traditional tribal dance. The piece was first premiered on the Square for Dane 175. When asked why he chose this piece to celebrate this milestone concert achievement, Latimer said “It takes us back to our roots. Elliott Funmaker, his family, and the musicians I have come to know are very talented and have a very spiritual message in their celebrations and respect for the meaning of life, country and music.
Afterall, there’s something spiritual about the now 45-year tradition of the Capitol City Band’s summer concerts-in-the-park.”
The remainder of the program will be “Americana” including Irving Berlin’s Songs for America, Arms of America by Arthur Pryor and LaBelle Americana (songs about American women) arranged by Warren Barker. Three professional singers, Rachel Warrick, Nora Edie and Abby Nichols, all of Madison, will join for their trio rendition of Cabaret followed by How Long Has Then Been Going On. The program also includes The President’s March (Fillmore), Daydream (J.B. Sebastian), The Four Hornsmen (D. Bennett) featuring the horn section, Begin the Beguine (C. Porter) and A Celebration of Spirituals (arranged by W. Barker). Board Chairman, Nancy Riesch-Flannery, says “it seems fitting to close with Semper Fidelis or Always
Faithful (in translation) by J. P. Sousa because one of Latimer’s messages to the audience at every concert is that the march king’s music reminds us of who we are, why we are here and where we are going.”
Rennebohm Park is located at 115 N. Eau Claire Avenue at the corner of Regent Street and Eau Claire Avenue. Bring a chair and a friend to celebrate ordinary people doing extraordinary things through music. That’s Thursday, August 1, 2013 at 7 p.m. For more, visit wwwmmqccb.org or email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (608)835-9861.