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Strike Up the Band

June 1 City Park Ice Cream Social A Denver Tradition

By Greg Davis

Special to the GPHN

The flowers are in bloom, winter weather is moving on, and for children, school’s just about out for the summer.

For Denver, summer means many things. From mountain hikes and festivals to the boys of summer playing baseball at Coors Field, Denver is rich in summer tradition. But perhaps one of the most overlooked traditions of summer is that of the Denver Municipal Band, the oldest professional concert band in the United States.

Each summer, the Denver Municipal Band provides an impressive concert series, and once again, the band will kick off this year’s activities at the City Park Ice Cream Social on Friday, June 1 at the City Park Pavilion.

The Denver Municipal Concert Band was founded in the 1860s by Alex Sutherland. It performed concerts throughout the 1870s and 1880s before changing its name to the Denver Municipal Band in 1891. It has operated continually as a municipally funded professional band now for more than 120 years.

The municipal band currently includes a 17-piece jazz band, jazz combo, and brass band, woodwind and brass quintets, and the full 40-piece concert band. As has always been the case, many of the musicians also play with other ensembles, including the Colorado Symphony and Colorado Ballet.

The Municipal Band has strong ties to Park Hill. Concerts have been hosted at the City Park Bandshell for more than 100 years. For much of that time, Park Hill resident Gerald Endsley served as the band’s director. Endsley, who lived in Park Hill and graduated from East High School, began as a cornet soloist in 1966 until assuming duties as the band’s director from 1995 until his passing in 2015.

Today, the rich tradition of the Denver Municipal Band continues under the direction of John Martin, a professional musician who has performed with the Colorado Symphony, the Boulder Philharmonic, the Colorado Ballet Orchestra, the Denver Brass and numerous other professional ensembles.

Come celebrate Denver’s rich history and the beginning of summer at the City Park Ice Cream Social at the City Park Pavilion on Friday, June 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Ice Cream Social is a family-friendly event with free face painting, free ice cream, the band (of course), and entertainers. It is sponsored by District 9 Councilman Albus Brooks and the City Park Alliance with support from Sweet Cooie’s Ice Cream, the Denver Zoo, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

For more information visit, www.cityparkalliance.org

Greg Davis is president of the board of City Park Alliance.


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