LEOMINSTER — On a few special evenings this summer, the community will be fortunate to hear once again the music of the Leominster Colonial Band, which will perform in its 111th year of existence.
The concerts will begin Tuesday, July 21, at Monument Square in downtown Leominster rather than the traditional venue of Carter Park, albeit with significant changes to allow for current social-distancing protocols.
Steven Piermarini, the band’s longtime director, will once again lead the band, which currently has 29 members.
“The musicians represent some of the finest instrumentalists in the area, many of whom have performed with major orchestras and nationally known personalities,” said Piermarini.
When Piermarini and band manager John DeCicco realized that the improving health conditions might allow them to go forward with their concerts, they visited the usual Carter Park site to measure and consider positioning.
“In order to maintain social-distancing protocols, there was no way we could use the Bisceglia Bandstand, and the rest of the park just wasn’t suitable for reasons of lighting and safety,” said Piermarini. “Monument Square allows us the space we’ll need for both the musicians and audience to satisfy the state’s current guidance on distancing.”
The series of five concerts will be held from 7:30 to 9 p.m., on the following dates: Tuesday, July 21; Friday, July 24; Tuesday, July 28; Friday, July 31; and Tuesday, Aug. 4. The schedule allows for rain dates if necessary.
Piermarini has prepared an entertaining series of programs, beginning with a salute to the heroes of the health crisis on July 21. Selections will include John Williams’ “Theme from Superman,” Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” and Gershwin’s “Strike Up the Band.”
“My wife is a postal worker, and my daughter is a grocery worker,” Piermarini said. “Seeing what they went through as essential workers throughout this crisis really helped me to appreciate how doctors, nurses, EMTs, police and firefighters have put everything on the line to help the rest of us. I feel that since we’re kind of ‘opening up’ public performance here in Leominster, we should do a musical tribute to those who got us this far.”
On July 24, the band will present a salute to Broadway composer Jerry Herman, who died recently. Selections will include medleys from his shows “Hello, Dolly!”, “La Cage aux Folles,” and “Dear World.”
A musical variety is scheduled for July 28, including a tribute to songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King, excerpts from Mozart’s Symphony #40, “Ashokan Farewell” from Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary, and Beethoven’s “Turkish March” in honor of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
The July 31 concert will include Warren Barker’s wonderful “Broadway Showstoppers Overture,” Dave Brubeck’s jazz classic “Take Five” and selections from Dvorak’s Symphony #9 (From the New World).
Closing out the season, the Aug. 4 concert will feature a medley of Jerry Vale hits sung by guest vocalist Carl Piermarini. The concert will also feature Strauss’ “Tales from the Vienna Woods,” Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “Instant Concert.”
“Obviously, the biggest difference in this year’s concert series will be the new venue and the numerous challenges to performing as an ensemble being spaced apart drastically,” said Piermarini. “Musicians rely on being close enough to each other to be able to blend their sound and maintain proper musical balance. This will be a real challenge given our new setup, but one I am willing to tackle.”
Piermarini added that the success of the concerts will depend on the audience adhering to proper social distancing. Everyone attending the concerts must wear a mask. “Our grant from the Music Performance Trust Fund depends on this,” he said.
On Friday evenings, picnic tables will be placed on lower West Street in downtown Leominster for patrons to use, though they are advised to bring blankets or chairs as there will be limited seating on the common.
Social-distancing protocols will be strictly adhered to for both audiences and musicians, maintaining a minimum of 6 feet between people.
“Everyone has had to deal with a wide range of emotions during this pandemic,” Piermarini said. “I know that my wife and I, like everyone else, are longing to return to some semblance of normalcy in our lives. As a band, we felt strongly that if we could make this summer concert series happen, it would go a long way to helping the community feel some normalcy, too.
“Thanks to John DeCicco and everyone in City Hall who got on board, we’re going to try to make that happen.”
Sponsorship for the concert season includes grants from the Music Performance Trust Fund, the city of Leominster, the Leominster Cultural Commission, and local donors.
“Times may seem different right now, but some things remain the same and, hopefully, that will be the enjoyment that our audience derives from hearing a concert outdoors, where children can run around and everyone can get pleasure from the excitement of live music,” Piermarini said.
In the event of inclement weather, check www.colonialband.org or their Facebook page for specific information.