The forerunner of the Oshkosh Area Community Band was the Oshkosh Civic Band directed by Willis Buettner, but the band was discontinued in 1985. The Civic Band was in existence since the 1960’s and played in nursing homes, park shelters for special events and was supported by the Musical Performance Trust Fund of the Musicians Union.
Because of the absence of a volunteer community band a meeting was held with Charles Drayna, then Director of the Oshkosh Recreation Department, (a division of the Oshkosh Area School District), to discuss the possibility that the Recreation Department would assist in the organization of a new all-volunteer community band. Drayna was supportive of the idea, noting that other Recreation Departments had reported positive experiences with community bands.
At the same time the Oshkosh Noon Kiwanis Club was seeking a new project and support for creating a new community band was approved.
A steering committee of eleven Kiwanis members and volunteers from the community met in a series of meetings in the Recreation Department offices during the fall and winter of 1986/87 which resulted in the selection of the name Oshkosh Area Community Band, election of officers, the Board of Directors to direct the Band’s affairs, the creation of a special account under the Oshkosh Recreation Department to handle the Band’s expenses, and the selection of Terry Hathaway, then Instrumental Music Teacher at Lourdes Academy, as the band’s first Musical Director. The Band’s logo was designed by charter member Orrene Raby.
Concert at South Park Art Fair, 1987
Weekly rehearsals for the new Band began February 18, 1987 at Lourdes Academy. There were sixteen volunteer musicians and the director at the first rehearsal. Performances at mostly public events, parades, holiday celebrations, and the beginning of the summer concert series began shortly thereafter. Other than early assistance from Oshkosh Noon Kiwanis, which provided Community Service dollars several times during the period from 1987 into 1989, the band has been self-supporting since the beginning. The Oshkosh Recreation Department and its Director, Al Wenig, (who replaced Charles Drayna after his retirement), have continued to be supportive, although no Recreation Department funds have been paid to the band.
For our 10th anniversary concert in the spring of 1997 we commissioned renowned composer/arranger Warren Barker to compose our very own ‘Celebration Fanfare’ as well as arrange a special medley for us called “Irving Berlin: The Early Years”. The world premier of these compositions was performed at our 10th Anniversary concert, March 8, 1997 in the Oshkosh Grand Opera House.
With the solid support of our patrons, the band has continued its’ success and on March 31, 2012, we celebrated our Silver Anniversary Spring Concert in the Alberta Kimball Auditorium. Having commissioned world recognized composer Michael Sweeney for an original composition for the celebration, “Sawdust City Celebration” was created. Based on folk songs out of Wisconsin, Sweeney directed the world premier of the composition to a grateful audience and band. Guest artists on the concert included Janet Planet and Rob McWilliams.
Summer Concert at Albert Kimball Auditorium , 2014
Since our beginning there have been no fees or auditions to join and membership is open to any interested post high school adult. Our objectives have always been to: provide Oshkosh area musicians a venue with which to perform; provide Oshkosh area residents an opportunity to hear good band literature as performed by the OACB, and develop a regular and supportive following. While developing our by-laws, we selected a motto: MUSIC SHOULD BE FOR LIFE! As time has passed, the importance of this motto has become more apparent.