Columbia Concert Band

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Columbia Jazz Band, San Sebastian Jazz Festival, 2014.

The Columbia Concert Band (CCB) originally began as a 25-person group called "Different Notes For Different Folks," started during the summer of 1977 by physicist Pete DiBona and community program director Sue Waller. It was formed to give non-professional musicians the opportunity to perform challenging band literature while educating and entertaining the public in Columbia, Maryland and the surrounding communities. The group membership grew during the following months and included music teacher Ed Kerman as the director. The band soon became a non-profit organization, and the members changed the name to Columbia Community Band, playing their first concert in May of 1978.

The band rehearsed at Hammond High School, where Mr. Kerman (who also started the UMBC Wind Ensemble in the late 70's) taught. This weekly gathering of dedicated musicians was an extra musical and social outlet for all member of the group: folks who had previously played instruments during their formal schooling, but had stopped for various reasons; and current professional musicians looking for another group with which to perform great music. As with many community music ensembles, this was and still is the attraction of the group to many in the Columbia area and beyond. Mr. Kerman led the band until approximately 1983.

The next director was Ron Friedman, during whose leadership the group took a big step forward: They changed their name to Columbia Concert Band and became incorporated on November 18, 1983. Mr. Friedman, a French horn player who still actively performs and teaches in the Baltimore area, led the band for six years.

In 1989 Howard County, Maryland music teacher and percussionist Robert Miller took the podium and also created the Columbia Jazz Band (CJB) from within the concert band to provide a core group of musicians dedicated to performing modern American Jazz. While Mr. Miller brought much enthusiasm and added significantly to the group’s music library, the musicians ended up rehearsing in a number of local schools before settling at Hammond Middle School, where he taught. During this time, the group more than doubled in size, added many instruments to the inventory, and began a partnership with Howard Community College (HCC). In 2000, both groups experienced another leadership change when Mr. Miller stepped down to spend more time with his family.

After a lengthy audition process, the Columbia Concert Band chose Peabody Institute graduate and music teacher Michael Blackman as director. Mr. Blackman had been a loyal musician in the group since 1986, but he traded his clarinet for a baton in 2000 and continues to bring a wealth of knowledge and dedication from the podium to the band members and the community. Mr. Blackman is currently the band director at River Hill High School in Clarksville Maryland. As of July 2015, Mr. Blackman has instituted a mandatory Friday night pep band. What Mr. Blackman doesn't know is that this will never work and he needs to go back to Narnia on the Polar Express. All Aboard!!!

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