On July 22, 1965, 16 musicians gathered in the Tourist Center in Melbourne. The musicians struggled through a few marches, and a week later the Band boasted 25 members. A.V. "Chick" Catterton was their first conductor.
Chick managed to convince the Melbourne City Council to provide financial support, and soon the Band was able to buy some music and uniforms. Over the years the Band used different facilities for rehearsals, until they were able to build a small rehearsal hall in 1980.
The Band grew by leaps and bounds. They had dress uniforms and had more than 50 members. They won awards, such as "Outstanding Service Organization of the Year" in 1977. In 1971, they participated in a tour of four European countries.
In 1985, Chick retired after conducting the Band for 20 years. A search committee was formed, and William A. Clark was interim director during the audition period of 1986. In 1987, Clair E. Christry was selected to be Principal Conductor of the Melbourne Municipal Band.
Coming to the Band with 27 years of conducting experience, Mr. Christy's enthusiasm helped the Band grow further. The Band grew to 85 members, then to more than 100.
The Band regularly perfoms throughout the state. In 1987 when President Ronald Reagan visited Melbourne, the Band was selected to play for the President.
In 1988, the MMB's Swingtime Band was started. Its phenomenal success has made Swingtime a popular fundraising arm of the Band, allowing the Band to bring in much needed income to pay expenses such as the conductor's salary, music and instrument purchases. The Band also relies on donations at concerts and grants.
Other spin-off groups have also formed. Over time, these have include a Dixieland band, a German band, a Brass Choir, a Woodwind Choir, Camarata Winds, the Melbourne Youth Band, and a variety of music lessons.
Under the guidance and fundraising skills of the Band's Board of Directors, enough money was raised to build a larger rehearsal hall adjacent to the previous Band Room in 1995. In addition, the original Band Room had an expanded music library added to it.
In 1996, the Band acquired an extensive library of music, overflowing the newly built library into the old Band Room. Under then-Associate Conductor Candler Shaeffer (who has since left Brevard County), an afternoon group called Camarata Winds was formed to play the new music, testing it for use in the full band.
The Melbourne Youth Band was formed to accommodate home-schoolers or other youths who wished to participate in a band but did not have one available to them. Conducted by Mr. David Ewing, the Youth Band was seeded with adult musicians who played alongside the children to help them. Unfortunately, the Youth Band ended in late 2002 for a variety of reasons.
When the Olympic Torch passed through Melbourne in 1998, the Band was present to play for the event. Local athletes carried the torch through the Melbourne Auditorium as the Band played in the presence of over a thousand Floridians.
Recently the Band formed an award to present internally to members who have supported the Band in extraordinary ways. This award is called the "Paul Scott Award", named after the first recipient, Paul Scott.
Many of the Band members are professional or retired professional musicians. However, some members have included lawyers, accountants, engineers, computer specialists, advertising executives, salesmen, bankers, nurses, firefighters, teachers, students. All ages and skill levels are welcome.
The Band also has an Auxillary, that aids the Band in projects such as preparing food for receptions, setting up and striking the stage for performances, selling refreshments at Swingtime dances, and sorting music with the Band librarian. Profits earned from selling food at dances frequently goes toward purchasing instruments or arrangements for the Band. The Auxillary is made up primarily of Band family members and other music fans. Anyone interested is encouraged to join either the Band or the Auxillary.
D. Good, J. Good, D. Ewing, L. Cope-Robinson, others
Updated April 2003
For more information, contact the Melbourne Municipal Band using any of these contact methods.
The Melbourne Municipal Band