by Martin McConnell
The Brecksville-Broadview Heights Community Band recently continued its 28th season with a patriotic summer concert at the Brecksville Human Resource Center on June 6. The concert kicked off the band’s summer series, with a subsequent performance in Broadview Heights Rec Center on June 13.
“Usually [the summer concert] tends to be patriotic,” conductor Patty Nemitz said. “This one is no exception. We’re doing the Armed Forces Salute, we always do Stars and Stripes Forever … The community chorus will also be singing at this concert.”
The band tries not to lean too heavily into themes for their concerts, but they do like to play music that fits to the time of the year.
“I just think we have to dig down to our patriotic roots [for this concert],” Nemitz said. “I usually try not to do a themed concert. The winter concert is winter and Christmas. The first half of the concert is just other tunes, and then the second half is the Christmas concert.”
The band is made up of about 45 musicians, ranging from 15-80 years old. Nemitz explained that she believes this mix of young and old makes the band truly unique and special and members want to convey that special feeling to the community.
“We have a student from Brecksville-Broadview Heights who is just a junior,” Nemitz said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the younger players to be able to realize that music is not just a high school adventure, it can actually be a lifelong endeavor.”
Nemitz credits James Roytz with giving the band such a strong foundation and for helping ignite her passion for music. Roytz was Nemitz’s band director at Charles F. Brush High School in Lyndhurst, and allowed her to take over the position as the community band’s director when he retired from teaching and moved to Florida.
“I took over the group in the fall of 2009 and have been the conductor ever since,” Nemitz said. “It’s a very dedicated group of people. … It just amazes me how committed the older people are to the group.”
The band meets every other week, with rehearsals taking place on the second and fourth Mondays every month. Nemitz noted she likes to pick music that will challenge the band, but makes certain the pieces are ones everyone can play at all skill levels.
“I don’t want anyone to walk out of the group going ‘I can’t play this,’” Nemitz said. “I try to think about the group and the sound of the group. I’ve always felt that that’s important.”
The band has had a piece commissioned and premiered at one of their concerts as well. Local composer John M. Pasternak dedicated his piece “Cuyahoga River March” to the band and conducted it for the piece’s premiere.
“John conducted the premiere on March 9, 2020. If you know the date, that was just a few days before we all got shut down,” Nemitz said. “We just got it in. … But that was kinda neat, that he wanted to do that for us.”
Nemitz said that one of her top priorities is bringing a sense of welcoming to the group, and encourages former musicians to try again, this time with her group. The music is important, but the feeling of community is what makes the band more than just a group of musicians that play together a few times a year.
“If you like to play, we’d love to have you,” Nemitz said. “I’ve had a lot of people who have literally dusted off their cases, opened their instruments up, and started again. It really is sort of like riding a bike. You can get back on it if you want to.”