Community band proud of local traditions, classical music

Band of the Palouse was established in 1974, plays for free

BLAINE ROSS, Evergreen reporter

The Palouse is arguably a microcosm of American music, as its been a melting pot of many different styles of music. One group that exemplifies this is the Community Band of The Palouse, a local ensemble established in 1974.

The group focuses mostly on classical music, and their goal is to keep performers and audiences in touch with music, Director Denise Snider said.

The band was founded by Dana Cleveland, a retired Pullman High School music director.  The band has evolved over the years and now has musicians of all ages and careers. The current group is made up of WSU students and professors, two UI professors, two WSU Food Services employees, local engineers from Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory, veterans, high school students, families and medical professionals.

“It’s a pretty brainy group,” Snider said.

Snider has conducted the group for the past five years and encourages people who want to play to come join the band.

The band’s repertoire varies from year to year, but it’s consistent when it comes to playing classical music. Every year, Snider said they challenge themselves to play more difficult pieces.

“Most of the music we play is a medium skill level,” she said, “but we challenge ourselves every year with one or two pieces and some easy things too, so there’s something for everyone.”

The Community Band of The Palouse does not participate in competitions, as they’d rather focus on making music for their own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. The group performs annually in the Lentil Parade, a Veterans Day concert and a family concert in the spring.

“Our main interest is to cultivate interest among kids to play instruments,” Snider said.

As a community-oriented band, the group has collected food and money for the Pullman Food Bank in the past. Occasionally, the band performs at senior residences and care centers around the area.

Snider said one group member, Jacob Ward, would be playing at Carnegie Hall after placing first in the Washington State Solo Clarinet Competition.

Marcelo Martinez, a junior accounting and music double major, has participated in the band on and off. He joined the band in summer 2017. While Martinez is currently taking a break to focus on his schoolwork, he said he will join again.

Martinez explained that the band has established community pride and tradition over its 43 years of performance, which he has never experienced in a local band before.

“The community band back home wasn’t like that,” he said, “so I really like the traditions and history it has from all the people who play in the Moscow-Pullman area.”

The band has been culturally enriching for Martinez, and he said he believes that it has also made him a better musician. Playing with his colleagues and classmates made for a friendly atmosphere from the beginning.

“Seeing that each piece we play has a specific clarinet part, that strengthened my skill as a musician,” he said.

Martinez emphasized that the band does not play only classical music, but a variety of genres.

“We also play a bit of ragtime and jazz, songs like ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever,’ and, of course, the Cougar Fight Song,” he said. “I’d say it’s a mix of music with the occasional piece of jazz.”

The Community Band of the Palouse has welcomed musicians to hone their skills through performance since its first rehearsal in 1974, Snider said.

The band is a non-profit organization, which allows them to make their concerts open to the public, with the goal of inspiring the next generation of musicians to play. Snider said that so far, all of their concerts have had free admission.

Snider said the Community Band of The Palouse is always looking to bring some fresh faces into the group. No audition is necessary, and more information can be found by contacting Denise Snider at [email protected]

Rehearsals begin at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Gladish Community Center, Room B20.