by Linda Jernigan
The Cedar Falls Municipal Band offers a free concert in Overman Park every Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. throughout June and July. This is an experience rich in musical entertainment for the audience. The band offers a program filed with a variety of music -- marches, medleys from musicals and artists, rarely heard pieces, nostalgic pieces, patriotic numbers -- and always ends with the Star-Spangled Banner. The music continues to flow in August with band member ensembles that start at 7:00 p.m. Band members are a faithful lot. This year several have had their 50-year and 40-year memberships celebrated on stage. Moreover, the CFMB is the oldest municipal band in the state of Iowa.
But there is more to these concerts than just the music. The music ushers the spectator into a somewhat otherworldly “experience.” You are sitting in your folding chair or on your blanket on the ground and are surrounded by a wafting breeze. As the breeze moves gently throughout the park, you become aware of the golden sunlight that is filtering through the white clouds that are drifting across the sky and then down through the tree leaves providing a dramatic lighting effect. At times you become aware of clusters of tiny flying insects highlighted in the filtered light or your attention is drawn to a variety of birds flying high above the band shell.
The people in the audience become an integral part of the whole performance. You are sharing this experience with friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and strangers. People may be exchanging thoughts in low voices or walking to and from the Rotary Concession stand. The smell of popcorn permeates the air. Children are twirling to the music or playing racing games with each other. Somewhere in the audience is the woman who is always knitting or the father who is looking after his three children while his wife is on stage. There is an occasional dog thrown into the mix. And sometimes in the background is the intrusive noise of a train whistle or a motorcycle passing by.
The Cedar Falls Municipal Band bestows a magical and beautiful experience to everyone who steps into their musical realm.