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July 22, 2009 > Hayward Municipal Band, another hidden gem

Hayward Municipal Band, another hidden gem

By Simon Wong

Hayward's real identity is revealing itself. All cities have their fair share of urban problems but the perception that the City of Hayward is crime-ridden and gang-infested is wildly off the mark.

Occasionally, local resident and Hayward Area Historical Society member Frank Goulart speaks of the City's heritage, including musical traditions, at Council meetings. Hayward used to have its own opera house where the Lucky's parking lot is located near City Hall.

Structures may have come and gone but the traditions never went away.

What many do not realize is that the 40-piece band, including conductor, has played a summer concert series each year since it was founded in 1957 by two Hayward maintenance employees, Ed Mendonca and Tony Nunes. The musicians come from all walks of life. Some are school teachers, lawyers and doctors who play for pleasure. Some play professionally with other bands and orchestras. One member belongs to the Air National Guard Band.

The band has a full woodwind section (flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons and saxophones), brass section (trumpets, French horns, baritones, trombones and tubas), percussion, string bass player and vocalist.

Band members are recruited through referrals when the need arises. They must be able to sight-read proficiently.

"Once in a while, when we need a musician, existing band members will recommend someone they know. We have a clarinetist who has played every year since 1957. Others have been with us for 40 years or more," said conductor Kathy Morelli-Maier.

"Each week's program is different. There is one rehearsal, and then we play the show. We rehearse on Thursday night and perform on Sunday afternoon. Anyone considering joining should be fabulous music readers," she explained.

Hayward Municipal Band is funded by the City of Hayward; the musicians receive a small stipend. The City's band has participated in Veterans Day parades, played for more than 50 years on Memorial Day at Lone Tree Cemetery and used to play at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton.

The Tony Morelli Bandstand in Memorial Park is named after Kathy Morrelli-Maier's father who became band director in 1960. Morelli-Maier has attended every concert since then. She handed out programs as a young girl, narrated aged 7, joined the band as a flautist aged 15 and played percussion later. She was appointed assistant conductor in 1977 and conductor in 1998.

"Music knows no barriers and unites us all," concluded Morelli-Maier

Take a picnic, blankets and chairs to the last concert of the 2009 season from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 26 at Hayward Memorial Park (behind the Hayward Plunge), 24176 Mission Blvd, Hayward. Admission is free.

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