A musical centennial

The Marshall City Band celebrates the end of its 100th season

Photo by Deb Gau Marshall Municipal Band director Bob Meffert shook hands with City Council member David Sturrock, as sturrock proclaimed Wednesday “Marshall Municipal Band Centennial Day.” The city band has performed for 100 continuous seasons.

MARSHALL — It’s had different homes, different conductors, and different members, but through the years the Marshall City Band has played on. And as the band finished its final performance of the season on Wednesday evening, it reached a major milestone.

“It’s the end of our 100th season, as I have records,” said band director Bob Meffert. Marshall has had a city band at different points in the town’s history, but it’s had one continuously since 1918, he said.

Wednesday’s band concert mixed music with recognitions of the band’s history, and the many long-time members who have played in it. Marshall City Council member David Sturrock, standing in for Mayor Bob Byrnes, read a proclamation naming July 18 “Marshall Municipal Band Centennial Day.”

Sturrock said the band has performed for 100 continuous seasons, at locations around town. Before the band shell at Liberty Park was built, band concerts were held at spots including the corner of Main and Third Street, Legion Field Park, and Marshall Middle School. Through its history, the band has performed at a variety of parades and events, including the Taste of Minnesota at the state Capitol grounds, Sturrock said.

At its Wednesday concert, the band played pieces highlighting different band sections, like the basses and the trombones, as well as pieces that reflected on their past. As they prepared to play “Blue Tango,” Meffert said the music was written in 1951

“That was the year this band shell was dedicated,” Meffert said. At the time, band members had saved up two years’ worth of their stipends to raise money for the project. “They said, ‘City, will you please build us something?'” The rest was history.

The concert also recognized the many people who have been part of the band. Meffert said he was the band’s ninth conductor in 100 years. The city band has had some longtime directors, including Leo Yorde, who directed the band from 1949 to 1982, and Meffert himself, who has directed the band since 1983.

Meffert also spoke about some of the band’s longtime members. The late Irv Peterson was a member of the city band for 67 years. There’s decades of experience among today’s city band members, as well.

Band members stood up as Meffert recognized musicians who have played with the band for as long as 20, 30, or even 50 years.

The audience gathered in Liberty Park cheered for them all.