BCB History

The band was originally formed in 1851 as the Burlington Cornet Band under the leadership of J.B. Holmberg composer of "U.V.M. Waltz", the piece you should now be hearing. Besides performing concerts in Battery park, the band also played on the steam ships of the day for cruises on Lake Champlain. A quote from the Burlington Daily Free Press, April 8th, 1856 states, "The Burlington Band is a good one, as good as any, not composed of professional musicians, can very well be, and if not quite equal to the Germania or Dodworth's, it is our own and we believe in the encouragement of home industry". Not entirely inspiring but it probably made this group of farmers and lumberers feel pretty good.

In 1869 the band was re-organized as the Queen City Cornet Band and later in 1873 as the Queen City Band under the leadership of Edward T. Paige. Under Paige the group played successfully for a couple of years until Paige was arrested on suspicion of embezzlement from the Burlington Railroad of which he was later acquitted.

Click here for the J.B. Holmberg Midi file

Sherman's Military Band circa. 1882

In 1878 the dormant Queen City band became known as Sherman's Military Band under the baton of George Sherman who was a well known March composer of the late eighteen hundreds. Sherman retired as Music Director in 1917. The name was changed again to the Burlington Military Band and it was led from 1927 to 1957 by another well-know Burlington musician, Dr. Joseph Lechnyr. The band shell in Battery Park, where the band now performs, is dedicated to Dr. Lechnyr. After his death in 1958, the band went through a transition period with several directors.

In 1972 the band re-organized under new By Laws and the name was changed to the Burlington Concert Band. Now all major decisions regarding the operation of the band are made by the Board of Trustees. This Board is elected by the members.

After a few other conductors Linda Welch was hired for the position as musical director. She continued to lead the band exploring new music and styles until 1996. She was followed by Edward Boadway who was a local music teacher. He continued the traditions set forth by Ms. Welch until 1998 when Matthew Tatro was asked to succeed Mr. Boadway as conductor of the Burlington Concert Band. Mr. Tatro was a local music teacher and a member of the Vermont 40th Army Band. He had been a member of the Burlington Concert Band since 1990.

In 2003, Steve Sawyer took over the baton. Mr Sawyer received a BA Music in Education at Johnson State College and has been employed as a music teacher at Vergennes Elementary since 1991. He was also Musical Director for "LC Jazz", a swing group in the Big Band style, and played Tenor Sax in "Swingin Vermont Big Band" and "Stretchin the Limits", a swing trio.

In 2008, the baton was passed to Randy Argraves. Mr. Argraves began his musical studies at age seven when he took his first trumpet lesson. After several years of private study on trumpet and classical guitar he attended the University of Rhode Island and New England Conservatory of Music, where he received degrees in Music Education and Classical Guitar. He started his teaching career in Tucson, Arizona and came to Vermont in 2005. He is the band and orchestra teacher at Winooski Middle and High School and enjoys playing his guitar at events around town. Randall lives in Burlington with his wife, daughter and four dogs.

In 2014 Steffen Parker became our Musical Director. Steffen has been a fill-in conductor for a number of years for the band during Steve Sawyer tenure. Mr. Parker received a BA in Trombone Performance from Plattsburgh State University and a Masters in Music Education: Conducting from Colorado State University. He is also the Flynn Jazz Festival Director, Johnson Jazz Festival Director, Vermont All State Music Festival Director and is a member of the Burlington Discover Jazz Advisory Board. He lives on his farm in Williston, Vermont with his wife, daughter and two sons where he also grows blueberries and pumpkins.

In 2018, the position of Musical Director was taken over by Larry Solt. Larry graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and added degrees at Johnson State College and the University of Vermont. Since 1970 he has taught instrumental music in Ohio and Vermont. He is past president of the Vermont Music Educators Association, All State auditions chair and orchestra manager. Also he was a founding member of the Vermont MIDI program, now Music Comp. He was awarded certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and Special Recognition in the Vermont Music Educators Hall of Fame in 2010. Larry has conducted regional and district bands in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Indiana, and Honduras. Between 1988 and 2005 he worked with the Vermont Youth Orchestra program as trumpet master teacher and brass and percussion sectional instructor. He also served as an elementary principal in Lincoln, Vermont. Larry has performed with many groups throughout the state, including the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Mozart Festival Orchestra and the Vermont Jazz Ensemble. He also was conductor and soloist with the Catamount Brass Band, now the Green Mountain Brass Band. Currently, he conducts the Vermont Brass Ensemble and the UVM Concert Band for the spring semester 2018.

Burlington Concert Band circa. 1974, Marty McRae Director

Burlington Concert Band at Battery Park, Town Band Day July 22nd, 2000

The Band President is elected by the members and also serves as General Manager. He (she) is responsible for all routine decisions regarding the operation of the band and presides over the Board of Trustees.

The band plays many types of music including marches, show tunes, novelties, classics, and often features soloists from the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and other fine groups.

The band has just finished its 150th season of presenting concerts in Battery Park every Sunday evening and also does a few special performances each year.

The Burlington Concert Band now has an active membership of forty musicians ranging from high school and college students to professional musicians from the Greater Burlington area.