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New Batavia Community Band gives its first performance

Paul Bartow French horn said he signed up for BataviCommunity Bwhen he got call join.  'This was something good

Paul Bartow, on the French horn, said he signed up for the Batavia Community Band when he got the call to join. "This was something good to do for the community over the holiday break," the Wheaton College student said. | Linda Girardi ~ For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 6, 2014 12:48PM

While people regularly drop into Batavia City Hall to toot their horns for one thing or another, others are purely interested in making music.

Recently, the Batavia City Council chambers was jam-packed with musicians interested in rekindling the joy of performing. They were rehearsing with the new Batavia Community Band.

The band, comprised of musicians with a passion to make music, gave an inaugural performance at the Peg Bond Center for the annual tree lighting ceremony on Sunday.

Linda Schielke, wife of Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke, founded the musical group knowing musicians that once played in their high school and college years have longed to dust off their instruments, but nowadays have too hectic schedules to join a group.

“So many people I have talked to throughout the years still have their instruments but never thought they would ever have another chance to play with a band again,” Schielke said. “They thought it would be fun to just do something occasionally and that was how I felt. I was a percussionist all through high school and a little bit in college.”

Schielke, who still has her drum set, contacted former Batavia High School band director John Heath in mid-October and suggested the Christmas season be their first performance.

Schielke and Heath recruited about 70 members, many of whom have not played in a band for decades or are now retired music teachers.

“Among the younger group, we have several musicians who are majoring in college and getting their master’s degrees. We have strengths in both ends, it has been phenomenal,” Schielke said.

It was a beautiful starlit and relatively mild night to perform for the crowds gathered for the tree lighting, but nobody in the band expected it would be a historic weekend for the town.

The Batavia Bulldogs had won the school’s first IHSA Class 6A football state title Saturday in DeKalb.

“We practiced the Illinois Loyalty school song for the first time today, but many of us remembered playing it in school,” Schielke said.

Schielke said there has been research done but so far no historical record has been found that a large community band was ever formed in Batavia.

“There is some documentation of a coronet band in the late 1880s, but really not of a specific town band that plays strictly for city events,” she said.

The band already seems to be a hit.

“I saw it on the faces of the band members. It is really just the joy of making a really great sound together,” Schielke said.

The Batavia Community Band’s next performance has been tentatively set for 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve at the Peg Bond Center.

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