Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rockin’ the 125th in the Granite City

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the St. Cloud Municipal Band’s 125th anniversary concert with my parents.
Me, with Dad (and Mini G) outside the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud
The 57-member band sounded fantastic as it led the audience back in time, decade by decade, with songs that evoked the band’s 125-year history. Four guest former conductors – Dave Haedt, Mel Hauck, Marv Pearson and Lowell Larson – took turns directing 14 pieces.
The cover of the concert program.
A screen at the back of the stage displayed photos of previous incarnations of the city band, including the St. Cloud Bicycle Band from the turn of the last century, the G. Oliver-directed St. Cloud Municipal Boys’ Band, and photos of the modern band’s trips to China (1999), Mexico and Germany (2010). The slide presentation also noted important or interesting historical events that occurred during each decade.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of Mini G in front of this “Rock On” award presented to the band by Mayor Dave Kleis.
Mini G. Oliver (the Flat Stanley of bandmasters) attended the concert with me, too, and his presence was a reminder that the beautifully restored Paramount Theatre was a new concert venue when my flesh-and-blood great-grandparents, G. Oliver and Islea Riggs, moved to St. Cloud in 1923.

Known as the Sherman Theatre when it opened in 1921 (it was renamed in 1930), the venue had a majestic organ that my great-grandmother played to accompany the showing of silent movies. It’s difficult not to feel a sense of awe when I gaze at the ornamental light fixtures and architectural details and think about how my great-grandparents both used to perform in that majestic space.

A glimpse of the theatre’s stage and interior decor.
The theatre has held many notes, and many people, over the years. The renovated main floor seats 498 people (according to the sign), and I was pleased to see that most of those seats were filled on Monday evening, plus many more up in the balcony that I wasn’t able to count. It was wonderful to see such support and appreciation for the band. I hope it continues – I’d love to go back for the band’s sesquicentennial concert in 2037!

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