The American Band, one of the most prominent and oldest civilian concert bands in the country from Providence, performed at the University of Rhode Island’s Fine Arts Center this past Sunday afternoon.
There was an attendance of around 70 people, and the announcer, Scott Fraiser, introduced the band, directors and expressed how honorable The American Band is.
The band started out their performance with “American Band Salute”, a piece by Roger Cichy, conducted by Brian Cardany. Subsequently, the next piece was entitled “Fantasia in G Major”, one of J.S. Bach’s fugal works. Assistant Conductor Dalen Favali stepped up to conduct the next song, “Toccata Marziale”, a piece filled with complex meters and big fortissimo moments that slowly build up throughout its entirety.
The American Band ended the afternoon with John Philip Sousa’s classic patriotic American march, “Stars and Stripes Forever”. Upon finishing, the Concert Hall remained utterly quiet, followed by a standing ovation from the audience. Faveli expressed how the show had “some stellar moments.”
Founded in 1837, the American Band, originally organized as an all-brass band under its first director, Joseph Green. It soon became known as one of New England’s finest brass bands. In 1866, the renowned cornetist, David Wallis Reeves, was hired to lead the American Band, and made the executive decision to add woodwinds to the formerly all-brass group. The ensemble’s name changed to “Reeves’ American Band,” but after Reeves’ death in 1900, the band underwent a completely new reorganization.
Notable musicians such as Bowen R. Church, Herbert L. Clark, Edward Fay, Warren Fales, Joseph Lemaire, Frank Wallenberg, and Alfred Archambault led the band until 1978, when Dr. Francis M. Marciniak was designated as their new music director. Marciniak, director of bands at Rhode Island College, conducted the band until his passing in 1996, handing over the leadership to URI director of bands, Dr. Gene Pollart.
Recently in 2013, Pollart retired, and Cardany, after serving as Assistant Conductor from 2007 to 2013, was appointed as Musical Director and Conductor. Cardinal is also a member of the Music Department faculty at URI, where he conducts the Concert Band, Wind Ensemble and Commencement Band, directs the athletic band and teaches music courses.
The band currently retains 17 musical instruments, including the piccolo, flute, oboe, bassoon, alto and bass clarinet, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone, trumpet, french horn, euphonium, tuba, percussion, and keyboard.
Performances are all around the surrounding states, in a variety of engagements, such as concerts, balls, and military musters. The next performance by the American Band is on May 14, for the Rhode Island College Commencement Ceremony. In the future, the band can be found performing at events at Gaudet Middle School, Memorial Day Fireworks in Massachusetts, North Providence High School, RI Veterans Home, the John Brown House, NEIT Commencement, Providence Public Library and Glen Manor.