What do transplants to Delaware think about when looking for something constructive to do in retirement? The answer was simple for Sharon Still and Kay Creech. They started the Rehoboth Concert Band (RCB). The idea simmered while they still lived in Manassas, VA. Still was a high school band director, and band leader of a DC jazz band. Creech was a college business professor, business owner, and realtor. Their dream came to fruition when they moved permanently to Rehoboth Beach.
“We wanted to continue with our knowledge and skills and to give back to our community,” said Still, RCB director. “We saw a desire and need in the fast-growing coastal towns of Delaware for a community band in which community musicians could participate, continuing their life long playing of their instrument”.
What began modestly in September 2012 has evolved into a 60-member band at full capacity. They have played at the Rehoboth Bandstand, All Saints Church, Epworth as well as Salisbury and Berlin in Maryland, among other locations.
Planning the concerts takes time. “If I have chosen a theme for the performance, I select compositions that depict that theme.” Still says. “A composition has to appeal to me, move me in some way, in order for me to conduct the ensemble in such a way to move/appeal to an audience”.
About half of the band members are retirees. Some have played with celebrities such as Tina Turner. Musicians also include students from the Cape Henlopen and Indian River school districts as well as some college students from Del Tech and U of DE.
Flutist Marcy Parakaza has been with the band since the beginning and has lived in Rehoboth since 2000. “I was at the very first meeting with less than a couple dozen people,” discussing the basics like “whether or not we wanted to have one.” Parakaza and a few other attendees had been involved with a previous band that no longer existed and she was interested in reviving a musical component in the community. “Twenty years ago, there were few arts opportunities and Rehoboth shut down in the winter,” she noted.
RCB now averages 6-7 concerts a year ranging from performances by the entire band to smaller ensembles. Still kept the group visible during Covid by staging outdoor concerts in various neighborhoods with what she calls the “baby band”.
Their Peace Concert held December 19th at Epworth Church was the first full-blown indoor performance since Covid began. It drew a large crowd and there were few empty seats. MARK YOUR CALENDARS for their next concert, the RCB Spring Concert, March 20th at 3pm, also at Epworth Church. The spring concert is a benefit for the Cape Henlopen Senior Center.
The center provides a practice space, so the band holds its spring concert as a benefit in return, according to Ed Fisk, who plays the oboe and is also part of a separate woodwind group with Parakaza. Fisk joined RCB in 2016. He has a Master’s degree in music and Music Education from West Chester University (PA) and was an instrumental music teacher for 34 years in northern Delaware. Parakaza has a Masters’ degree in music performance from Towson University (MD). Their credentials are indicative of the quality of musicians.
RCB is a nonprofit eligible for grants and has received funds from the DE Division of the Arts and the Festival of Cheer, Inc, producers of Hudson Fields’ Wonderfest. RCB also obtains funding from community individuals, members and local businesses. This incredible, inspiring and thriving group in one you may want to explore more for yourselves. Do you have an instrument to dust off? Do you want to attend an inspiring evening for yourself? For those with a musical ear or just a desire to listen more, check out all they have to offer and consider how you might join in!
Come blow your horn! Rehearsals are on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m., from September through June.
Tuba players are especially needed; must read music. Interested players, please contact email@example.com
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Ophrah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.