Music conductor John Faris directs more than 100 people from all walks of life in the city of Glendale Summer Band concert series.
The band features professionals, as well as other musicians who are students, and work in such professions as doctors, nurses, attorneys and teachers. The group also has a number of young people along with retired seniors in the mix.
“I think that is what makes us special, but our primary goal is to have fun making music,” Faris said.
The summer band performs at 8 p.m. every Thursday for eight weeks at Murphy Park Amphitheater in downtown Glendale. Two weeks ago, Faris and the band kicked off the 46th season of the free series, where visitors can listen to their favorite tunes.
The group performs a variety of tunes from polkas and marches to show tunes and folk songs.
Faris said it takes dedication from the players to commit to the band. More than 175 people are signed up for the summer with at least 100 in attendance for the performances each week.
They meet every Tuesday during the series at Glendale High School to rehearse before the concert.
“I’m pleased with the people we have in the band and the proficiency by the older and the younger players that are with us,” Faris said.
During the winter months, Faris conducts the Phoenix Concert Band at Phoenix College. But he enjoys working with the summer band.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to work with people on all types of levels,” Faris said.
Martin Dickey, special events manager for the city of Glendale, said the summer band series has become a tradition.
The summer band is the longest-running community band in Arizona and was formed in 1966, originally playing at O’Neil Park, and moving to Murphy Park when the amphitheater was built.
The group was conducted for 22 years by the founding director, E. Lowell Rogers. Although the founding group predated the present City Hall, it provided the inspiration for construction of the amphitheater in which the band currently performs.
“The amphitheater was built with the community band in mind so they would have a venue to continue to perform,” Dickey said.
Dickey said the concert series is the perfect opportunity for families to spend time together after the sun sets and listen to great music.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to bring a blanket and relax, listening to some outstanding musicians from the around the Valley,” Dickey said.
Faris said he’s noticed other bands patterning themselves after the city of Glendale and feels flattered by the creation of those groups.
“As long as this band continues to satisfy both the players and audience, everyone goes home satisfied, and we will continue to remain active,” Faris said.