Byron Civic Band to make debut

BYRON – When Ron Kroeger moved to Byron last year, the first thing he looked for was a community band to join.

A saxophone player, Kroeger started asking around and did not like the answer he heard.

“There was not one,” he said. “The closest I could find was in Rockford.”

So, Kroeger did what any musician looking to keep his chops sharp would do – he started a community band.

And that new band – the Byron Civic Band – will have its debut performance on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Byron Middle School auditorium.

The band didn’t happen overnight, of course. First, Kroeger found a director in Mark Rose, who has played in and directed a number of groups in the Rockford area. Kroeger got to know Rose by playing in the Old Towne Band, a group Rose conducts.

“He came to me and asked, ‘Do you know anybody who would be interested in directing this thing?’” Rose said of Kroeger. “And I said, ‘What about me?’”

Putting the band together has been a bit of a process. Kroeger reached out to players he got to know locally, but also advertised for anyone in the community who plays, or who used to play and would like to get back into it.

“At our first rehearsal, we had 12 players,” Rose said with a laugh. “And it was a train wreck.”

There has been improvement since then, and the band is now up to 25 members. Both Kroeger and Rose said they would like to see that number at 40 players, and are always looking for more people who are interest in joining.

Currently, eight of the band members are actually from Byron. There are also members from Stillman Valley, Davis Junction, Oregon, Mount Morris and from Winnebago County.

Rose said no matter the level of playing experience and expertise the person has, the goal is to make the bank “musically satisfying” for the players.

“We want them to end up, in concert, sounding great, playing great with what they do play,” he said.

The first concert in November will feature” Second Suite for Military Band in F major,” by Gustav Holst; “New York: 1927,” by Warren Barker; “King Cotton March,” by John Philip Sousa; and “Mary Poppins,” by Richard Sherman.

For that first performance, Rose said his goal is to have more people in the audience than on stage.

As for Kroeger, it is about something different.

“I want the group to have a good time.”

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