By Michelle Lee
To some people, band music is merely a pastime. To others, however, it can be a way of life.
The Bloomfield Civic Band has delighted audiences for decades with a mixture of marches, patriotic music, classical works and other pieces.
The band will perform tonight at 7 p.m. outside the Bloomfield Public Library, located at 90 Broad St. in Bloomfield. The event is free and open to the public.
The group was founded in 1946 by then township Recreation Commissioner C.A. “Doc” Emmons as an opportunity for adult musicians and returning World War II veterans to perform.
While the organization has undergone many changes over the years in terms of players, the tradition of performing public concerts and the Monday rehearsals still remains the same, conductor Dominick Ferrara III said.
The Bloomfield Civic Band currently has about 45 members and they come from various parts of Essex, Hudson, Passaic, Bergen, Morris, Union and Sussex counties.
Ferrara, who has been the conductor since 1972, compares the civic band to a family. He knows everyone within the group and all of the players are friendly with one another. “Even though we play music, it’s like a Monday night ritual,” he said about practicing inside Bloomfield Middle School.
The civic band’s performance year spans from September to July with indoor and outdoor concerts. In December, the band collaborates with Miss Roseanna’s School of Dance for a holiday performance.
Ferrara, 72, of Bloomfield, said he tries to keep the musical repertoire as varied as possible and no two concerts are alike. Trademark band pieces, such as John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” can be played in the same program as selections from the Broadway musical “Cabaret” and the opera “Merry Wives of Windsor.” Other notable pieces the band has performed include the 1812 Overture, a tribute to George M. Cohan and suites by Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Paul Alongi Sr., a tenor sax player and president of the civic band, has played in the group for 36 years and performed with other professional bands for 63 years. Alongi, 78, calls the civic band “the second love of my life. I love to play and Dominick does a great job with selection,” Alongi said. “A lot of music is a challenge and when you’re a musician, you like to play up to the challenges. You’re playing everything and it’s good for you because you learn to play and sight-read everything.”
Alongi also highlighted the wide diversity of musical groups within the township, which include the Bloomfield Youth Band, the Bloomfield Chorale, the Bloomfield Symphonic Orchestra and the Bloomfield Mandolin Orchestra.
“If you look across the country, we’re one of the oldest running community bands – 64 years. It’s anomaly you have a municipality with a band and so many groups,” Alongi said.
Ferrara said the group is always looking for new members, especially musicians who play the French horn, euphonium, trombone and clarinet.