The La Frenier Chauvin family first established our music tradition in 1819, when they presented free concerts in a small park at 624 S. Main St. About 1830, the “Town Band” played on the steps of the Market House on Sunday afternoons. Since that time there have been other bands that have carried on this tradition: “The French Band”, “The German Band”, and “The St. Charles Brass Band.”
Research in late 2003 uncovered a direct link from the current Municipal Band back to the 1870 St. Charles Brass Band. The exact event was a July 4th, 1870 parade in which a photo identified the Brass Band and leader Joseph Decker. The Brass Band continued to perform into the mid 1880’s at which time it’s name was changed to the St. Charles Cornet Band. In 1887, Harry Rummel came to St. Charles to work at the Car Shops and began playing with the Cornet Band and quickly became leader. In 1897, the Cornet Band began presenting open-air concerts on Office Clerk’s Hill.
In 1900, Harry Rummel changed the name to Rummel’s Military Band. The Military Band performed under his leadership until 1912 when Harry and his wife left for California. Rummel’s musicians hired a new director in 1913 and changed the name to the St. Charles Military Band. In 1916, Professor D. G. LaBanca became the permanent director. The Band was reorganized as the St. Charles Municipal Band in 1929 after passage of a small tax levy that supported the band for many years. Professor LaBanca was instrumental in the reorganization and continued directing the band until his passing in 1942. He was fondly known as the “Music Man of St. Charles”.
Over the next 20 years the Band would have five different conductors. In 1964, Marvin Hohman was hired as conductor and spent the next 28 years directing the Band. During this time the concerts moved from Blanchette Park to the Main Street Mall and permanently to Frontier Park in August 1987.
In 1992, the City of St. Charles’ financial difficulties eliminated funding. The Band reorganized in 1993 as a not-for-profit organization. Nancy Garza became the new director. Support for the Band has increased each year as audiences and recognition grew.
The Municipal Band Organization is currently supported by the City of St. Charles and more than 100 businesses, companies, organizations and individuals throughout the Greater St. Louis Area.
The Big (Jazz) Band was organized in 1999 drawing mainly on musicians from the concert band. The 18-piece Big Band performs the second Sunday night each month during the summer in Frontier Park. Additional Big Band Events have included the Sister Cities Ball, spring concerts, St Peters Friday Night Dances, private dinner dances, Florissant Seniors dance, wedding receptions, holiday concerts at Lindenwood’s Scheidegger Center for the Arts and Festival of the Little Hills.
The Jaycee Pavilion in Frontier Park on the banks of the Missouri river is the beautiful setting for all the summer concerts performed by both Bands. Concerts have distinctive themes and diversified programs, which include both traditional and contemporary music.