Textile Band Breathes New Life Into Old Tunes

The Greenville Textile Heritage Band, part of the Greenville Textile Heritage Society, Greenville, South Carolina, is pleased to announce that it has received a donation of vintage band music from the Belleville Community Band of Belleville, Illinois. The donation will become part of the Textile Heritage Band library under the care of Mr. Dan Steadman, band librarian.

The Textile Heritage Band was formed in 2007 under the direction of Dr. Michael Moore and recreates the look and sound of the small textile mill bands that were common in the Greenville area during the early 1900s. For the sake of historical authenticity, the band typically performs music published before the 1940s, and many of the musicians play period instruments. Since most of the band arrangements published in the early 1900s are long out of print, this donation of approximately 600 pre-WWII titles is a perfect fit for the Textile Heritage Band and will certainly be put to good use.

The story of how a small community band in Greenville, South Carolina, received the donation of a music library from a small community band in Belleville, Illinois, is, as many of these stories are, one of serendipity. Textile Band cornet player Mr. Terry Kimble happens to be a native of Belleville and played in the American Legion Band there while in high school. During a 2009 visit to his parents, Kimble ran into ex-classmate, neighbor, and fellow trumpet player Kip Rhein, who was then president of the Belleville band. During the catching up that followed, Kimble described the Textile Heritage Band to Rhein.

In 2010, the Belleville Community Band needed to reduce the size of its 84-year-old library. After a complete inventory, the director selected most of the music obtained prior to WWII for disposal. The old music was no longer known or performed and the instrumentation did not suit a modern concert band. However, the band officers hoped to preserve the music in some form rather than simply destroy it. Rhein remembered his earlier conversation with Kimble and contacted him to see if the Textile Heritage Band would be interested.

Over the past Thanksgiving holiday, Kimble made the 700-mile drive to Belleville, where he picked up 23 file boxes containing an estimated 600 pieces of music. These boxes are being turned over to Steadman, who is cataloging the music for both the Textile Heritage Band and an online repository for band music in the public domain, bandmusicpdf.org. According to Steadman, “This is certainly a treasure. Sadly, so much of the music from this era has been lost. Most concert bands today would have problems using these arrangements because the instrumentation – D flat piccolos, no flute part, E flat clarinets and E-flat alto horns – are no longer used. So the old music is simply thrown away.”

The old music is well-suited to the purposes of the Textile Heritage Band, however, and they will be featuring some of the newly acquired tunes throughout the coming year, beginning with a dedication concert at Conestee Park on March 17 (8:30am) and at their annual spring concert on Sunday, April 29, 3:00pm at the Salvation Army Kroc Center. Both events are free. For more information on these and other performances, visit facebook.com/textileband or call 864-354-9633.

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