Although Westerville has had a continuing Community Band presence since 1869, this latest version of the Westerville Community Bands was established in January of 1989 and formed by core members from the old North American/Rockwell Concert Band following the decision by Rockwell International to close its Columbus plant. The need was for a new home for their band of almost 30 years. Under the music leadership of Director Tim Jameson, the band found this home in the community of Westerville and it began to grow.
As this new organization grew, so did the interest in other styles of music. In addition to the Concert Band, soon a German Band was formed, followed by a Big Band, a Dixieland Band and various other small groups. In 1992, the name was officially changed to the Westerville Community Bands to reflect the inclusion of both the Concert Band and the small groups. Upon the resignation of Director Jameson, the band hired renowned Music Director and educator Richard Suddendorf in 2001. Under Suddendorf’s leadership, the organization grew in size and stature. In 2014, Maestro Suddendorf retired and the band hired local educator Larry Klabunde as its Music Director. Under Director Klabunde’s leadership with assistance from Assistant Conductor Victoria Straub, the band now numbers 80 musicians, featuring some of the best amateur musical talent in central Ohio.
While the greatest sense of accomplishment comes from performance, the Westerville Community Bands organization plays an important role in promoting the arts in the Westerville community. While performing year-round with 4 major indoor concerts and 2 outdoor concerts, the concert band also partners with the Westerville Arts Council in presenting an annual Community Bands and Arts Festival each summer. This event takes place in the city’s Alum Creek Park and Amphitheater and brings together 8-10 central Ohio community bands as well as local visual artists for a day of showcasing the talents of local artists and musicians.
The Westerville Community Bands organization is non-profit and is supported by the City of Westerville, its Parks and Recreation department, the Columbus Foundation, and its generous individual supporters in the community.