After the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined the Jefferson City Community Band with a nearly two year hiatus, the group had something to prove at its first full season concert Sunday.
"Music is back," according to Paul Hinman, a founding director of the band.
The 65-person band performed a variety of musical selections Sunday afternoon in the Capitol Rotunda. Approximately 150 people attended the free fall concert -- the band's first since 2019.
The Jefferson City Community Band has been performing around the Capital City since 2010, but took time off amid the pandemic. After regrouping, its membership consists of a variety of amateur and professional musicians, ranging from high school students to experienced retirees.
Sunday was the first concert of the band's 2022-23 season lineup. Future concerts are planned for 11 a.m. Dec. 10 at Capital Mall; 2 p.m. March 25, 2023, at Calvary Lutheran School; and 2 p.m. May 29 at First Christian Church. The band will also perform Dec. 6 at the Mayor's Tree Lighting.
"It feels so nice to have live music back," Hinman said. "It's unfortunate that we had to deal with the things we've dealt with over the last couple of years, but now that things have moderated pretty severely, it's pretty easy to be able to do this and not have a problem."
Hinman said the band has been working to make up time lost to the pandemic, and it has a lot to make up for.
"The time off and away impacted what we're able to do because people's skills were put on hold during that time," he explained. "Their abilities, their understanding, their opportunities for growth have just kind of sat. Because it wasn't going forward, it was going backward."
The band is still in recovery, Hinman said. Its skills have developed rapidly during the past month in particular, he said, but it'll likely take until the end of the year to be mostly recovered.
Before Sunday's performance, Hinman reminded the musicians to be mindful of their concentration and endurance throughout the show.
Experienced musicians make up a majority of the band, Hinman said, but even experienced players can experience a "regression to the mean."
"People don't know how to recover quickly from the lapse of regular interaction," he said.
Like any other form of education, it's a process, Hinman said. And people develop at different paces.
"We're not where we want to be, but we're a whole lot better than we have any business being at this point," he said.
"I'm really thrilled with the progress that we're making," he continued. "Really thrilled. Everybody's working hard and they're trying to do the things that they know I expect and that they know they want to do. Some of the things we just can't do yet because we haven't recovered to that level."
Hinman said he likes to arrange performances "all over the map" so every audience member walks away hearing something they liked.
Sunday's program included a variety of pieces including an "English Folk Song Suite" arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams, "Emperata Overture" by Claude T. Smith and selections from Stephen Schwartz's "Wicked" arranged by Jay Bocook.
Becky Miller, a member of the JCCB board, said song selections included some fun ones to celebrate the fall season, particularly those from the "Wicked" musical.
Miller said it was great to be back in the Capitol. She said the building offers acoustics unlike anywhere else the band performs.
"It's just a great venue," she said. "The acoustics in there for a band like ours are really tremendous."
Hinman described the Capitol Rotunda as a challenging but beautiful venue. Even after a musician stops, the Capitol halls tend to carry the sound for a couple more seconds, he said.
"It's a very live environment," he said with a laugh. "The sound bounces around. We've been having fun."
Musicians interested in joining the Jefferson City Community Band, a completely volunteer band, can contact the band's Facebook Page, reach out via email at [email protected] or join the band during rehearsals Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. in the Helias High School band room.
"We hope that people, as they hear us and recognize that we're back and doing this, more people will come out and join us," Hinman said.
"We're going to have some moments that are really brilliant, I mean really brilliant," he added. "And we're going to have some moments that are pretty unrefined yet. ... It's a process, not a product. It's live music."