Now in its 11th year, the Rehoboth Concert Band (RCB) is preparing for its annual Holiday Peace Concert scheduled for Sunday, December 18 at 3 pm at Epworth Methodist Church on Holland Glade Road. The band will be performing a variety of tunes that celebrate the winter holidays and “encourage peace making throughout our communities and globally”. The agenda includes a diverse selection of traditional Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza melodies, and some with a twist, according to band director Sharon Still. Hint: the jazz band will be featured.
Still and Kay Creech have assembled a talented group of professional musicians and student musicians over the years. There was nothing like it in Rehoboth when they started it. The Manassas, VA transplants always had a dream that has become a reality and also a staple of Delaware Coastal life.
“We wanted to continue with our knowledge and skills and to give back to our community,” said Still. “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”.
This past fall, RCB continued its “In the Hood” concerts that were initiated in 2020 as a result of Covid. In October, the band performed at Paynter’s Mill in Milton and Coastal Club in Lewes and at outdoor, casual concerts for the neighborhoods in and around Sussex County. The band has performed at the Rehoboth Beach Yacht and County Club, Sawgrass, Milford Presbyterian Church grounds, the Woods at Love Creek, among others.
At full strength, RCB boasts about 55 members. What Still calls the “baby band” – about 35 or so – perform at community events. Aside from Epworth, full-blown band venues include the Rehoboth Bandstand, All Saints Church, and locations in Salisbury and Berlin, Maryland.
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, and move me, in order for me to conduct the ensemble in such a way to appeal to an audience”.
About half of the band members are retirees. Some have played professionally with big name celebrities. Covid has taken a toll on the number of student musicians, but the band has two from Sussex Academy and a couple of college students who play with the band when they are in town.
According to Still, other changes over the band’s history include the quality of musicianship, a tighter sound, and an elevated level of performance. “Because of this growth and depth, we are able to perform a higher grade of concert literature,” she says. “One thing that is difficult to hear or measure is the connection that band members have developed with each other. Members have become friends, spending time together outside of the rehearsal hall, getting to know each other and their families”.
That networking has produced several small ensembles that are independent of RCB, i.e. jazz combo, a woodwind quartet, a flute duo. And, RCB members have more opportunities to play outside of RCB performances with other performing groups throughout the state. In that regard, RCB has become a family itself.
RCB performs several community service concerts every year including a March benefit concert for the Cape Henlopen Senior Center.
RCB is supported by a grant from the DE Division of the Arts, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts event on www.DelawareScene.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 Oprah 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.