Auburn Civic Band est. 1910
This is the 103rd Anniversary of the Auburn Civic Band. We have survived many difficult periods to provide continuing service, entertainment, and enjoyment to
Auburn. The band was originally known as "Carpenter's Band" and then as the "Salem Town Commandery Band"
which was organized about 1910. During World War I the entire band enlisted and became known as the "3rd Regiment Band".
They played and marched for many contingents as they left our city for overseas training.
After the war the organization again resumed the name "Salem Town Commandery Band" and was very active marching in parades and playing concerts in Seward
Park, Hoopes Park, and Clifton Springs. During this time and for 35 years, Dr. Howard E. Stone was the conductor.
It was in 1940 that the members voted to change the name to the Auburn Civic Band, but this was a difficult period because with World War II many band members
enlisted or were drafted with only a handful left. They kept the band alive by playing for many war related activities such as Army and Navy "E" awards, rallies
and bond drives.
After the war, with returning veterans, the band again grew to around 40 members. Although they originally rehearsed in the Armory, they later moved to the Smith
and Pearson Hardware store and rehearsed in the third floor room they rented and paid for by member dues of ten cents a rehearsal. Later, rehearsals were move
to West Middle School. Thanks to the help of the City Fathers and school administrators.
The first concert after World War II was a Sousa Memorial Concert at the West High School in January 1949. Elvin Freeman of Pulaski, a former member of
Sousa's band, was there and Maurice E. Rose of Skaneatles was the new director of the Civic Band. He conducted for 23 years, Frederick Griswold and Earl
Crandall were the only two original band members left to play in this concert. An over crowded auditorium indicated the public interest and enthusiasm for more
band music so another concert was presented at Central High School in April with the same
response. Tickets cost 50 cents, and the children of the Cayuga Home for Children were guests of the band. The association of
“Former Sousa Band Members” brought about the series of Sousa Memorial Concerts.
The outdoor concerts series was revived in the summer of 1949 at Hoopes Park, a article in the Citizen-Advertiser that summer said the band was "lively and
spirited" and "it seemed to bring about a type of friendly get togetherness that is so lacking in our everyday life program" as people sat all around the "pretty park
lake". That summer about 18,000 people attended the concerts, averaging between 1,500 and 2,000 people a week.
1949 was a busy year for the band. In addition to the Sousa concerts and summer concerts, the band played at the Chamber of Commerce's
annual dinner, broadcast music over WMBO radio station and played at the "Big 6" picnic at Cayuga County park, participating in the
"Tall Corn Contest". After the summer concerts it became obvious that the band needed new uniforms and they played a series of concert
to help raise money for them. One of these concerts was held in November 1949 with a Barber Shop Quartet from the Auburn Chapter of the
Society for the Preservation of Barber Shop Quartets in America, Inc. The new uniforms were purchase in March 1950 for $2,000
and were first seen by the Public at a Concert in April 1950.
For many years the Auburn Civic Band was rated as one of the best bands in Central New York. Their fine musicianship was noted as they received a contract for
the New York State Fair for several years along with such bands as the "Army Air Force Band", the "Rochester Park Band" and the "98th Division Band". They
played four concerts in Empire Court each year.
In the 1950's and 60's the band continued with weekly rehearsals to prepare for occasional paid concerts and sponsored concerts in the parks. Newspaper reviews
said the band was "brisk and sparkling" and in August 1953 Lt. Alexander C. Morris, leader of the U.S. Naval Academy Band at Annapolis, Maryland,
congratulated the Musicians on their outstanding performance. In the 1960's the band began to present their concerts at various city parks from the stage of the
show mobile, with the retirement of Ellis Atwater as conductor, David Harrienger took over through 1984.
The band rehearses every week throughout the fall, winter and spring rehearsing many pieces in order to select a summer program for our concerts. The band is
always striving to entertain audiences with a variety of novelty numbers, marches and old favorites and the current director Jim Best brings to the Auburn Civic
Band a wide variety of music arrangements to captivate our modern day Audiences.
Our history is part of Auburn’s history. We have participated in many Ceremonies for both the City and County. And we have been a conduit for citizens to
continue their music hobbies and for school kids to advance their music skills. Not many cities have such a historical organization.