Community Band to perform for Old First Night

Amanda Mainguy | Staff Photographer
The Chautauqua Community Band performs during the Fourth of July celebration in Bestor Plaza.

The Chautauqua Community Band will put on its portion of today’s Old First Night celebration at 12:15 p.m. today on Bestor Plaza, or in the Amphitheater if weather is an issue.

Old First Night has traditionally been the venue for the band’s second and final concert of the season.

The Institution’s Fourth of July celebration also features the group, which is made up of musicians of all ages and skills.

“It’s always been a fun part of the festivities,” said Jason Weintraub, leader of the Community Band and a horn player in the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. “It’s not quite as patriotic a setting as the July Fourth show, but Chautauqua is such an American place that the band plays a necessary role.”

This afternoon’s concert will be accentuated with episodes of patriotism; the program begins with “The Star- Spangled Banner,” and will end with John Philip Sousa’s “Washington Post March.”

The performance will also feature an appropriately local connection via the Dixie Lakesiders — an ensemble made up of longtime members of the Community Band.

Outside of the two band concerts, the Lakesiders play many events during the season and represent an ideal near and dear to Weintraub’s vision for his group.

“The Dixie Lakesiders and a couple other offshoot groups are one of the things I’m most proud of when it comes to this band,” he said. “They’re veterans of the community band, and they met each other as a result of being introduced through the band. It’s a really neat thing to see happen.”

Today’s concert also signals an upcoming milestone for Weintraub and the band.

The 2015 season will be the community band’s 25th year of existence on the grounds, and Weintraub is already looking forward to the celebration.

“We’re going to recognize the occasion by playing all of our favorites from over the years and hopefully adding in some special things as well,” he said. “We could possibly play other places, such as Jamestown, but it’s just an idea at this point.”

Regardless of how the band and community as a whole decide to celebrate a quarter-century of marches and medleys, the anniversary will represent a tremendous achievement for Weintraub’s group.

“It’s given people a place to participate in the Chautauqua experience as opposed to just observing the music,” he said. “It’s turned out to be a positive experience all-around. It’s a success far beyond what I originally intended or ever thought it could be.”