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June 17, 2009 > Fun in the sun... and great music too

Fun in the sun... and great music too

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco

Sunday afternoons are often referred to as "lazy." It's the end of the weekend and most people are probably tired from more engaging activities and events that took place Friday night and Saturday. Many are inclined to relax, preparing for the work week ahead. Hayward Summer Concerts in the Park are the perfect solution for a Sunday respite.

For over 50 years, the Hayward Municipal Band has entertained young and old with the summer concert series at the park, playing a music repertoire that includes show tunes, classical, big band, marches and patriotic music. Concerts are free, thanks to the sponsorship of the City of Hayward and the Hayward Area Recreation District (HARD). Forty musicians with ages ranging from late teens to early 80's are members of the impressive band and they always present professional caliber performances. In addition to the summer concerts, this group has also represented Hayward in Veterans' Day parades.

It all began in 1957 when two employees of the City of Hayward's maintenance department, Ed Mendonca and Tony Nunes, founded the band. Within a couple of years, they were joined by Tony Morelli, a Hayward native and graduate of Hayward High School and San Francisco State College. Morelli put his talent and teaching credentials in Music and Art to great use. He had served two years in the Army, playing in the band at Fort Ord, and taught music to all grade levels in the Castro Valley School system and San Leandro Unified Schools. In 1960 Morelli became the band's director and conductor. After Mendonca successfully lobbied for a permanent bandstand, he and Morelli designed its structure and ensured that it was ready for the band's 1968 season. Morelli passed away in February 1998 and on June 28th the bandstand was dedicated in his honor, named the Tony Morelli Bandstand.

For the past 12 years, the band's conductor is Kathy Morelli Maier, Morelli's daughter and assistant conductor for many years. She took over band rehearsals when her father had back surgery in 1977 and eventually became head conductor when Morelli passed away. Maier "conducts just like her father and has continued the tradition of excellent music for all those who attend the concerts," stated Lolita Morelli, Maier's mother and the band's manager. "Maier is looking forward with great enthusiasm to the 2009 season and will continue the practice of varied programs - classical, popular, musicals, Latin, jazz and marches."

Mrs. Morelli was asked about the most significant change in the band's impressive half-century run. She answered, "Looking back through old records, one big change is the cost of music. In 1960 a march might cost $3 and arrangement of a musical $25. Now a march is frequently over $50 and a recently purchased arrangement of a musical was $200." Yet despite the financial adjustment it has had to make, the band has persevered and proudly performs its 53rd consecutive concert series this summer, a testament to how beloved it is by the community.

Each concert performance begins with the National Anthem and always ends with the rousing rhythm of John Philip Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever. "Anyone is welcome to go up on stage and march/dance to the music," enthused Tammy Fesmire of Castro Valley. Fesmire has faithfully attended the concerts over the past five years. "The bandstand looks out on a big grassy area where folks claim their spots with chairs and blankets. Bring a picnic lunch [because] it's a great outdoor dining experience," she added.

For more concert information, including Sunday program schedules, visit the band website at haywardmunicipalband.com.

Summer Concerts in the Park
Performed by the Hayward Municipal Band
Sundays, June 21 - July 26
2:30 p.m.
Tony Morelli Bandstand at Memorial Park
24176 Mission Blvd., Hayward (behind the Hayward Plunge)
(510) 569-8497
www.haywardmunicipalband.com

Free admission

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