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Dr. James Colonna takes up the baton for the Fort Wayne Area Community Band

New conductor, new venue

By Rod King

Fort Wayne Reader


Fort Wayne Area Community Band will kick off its 28th year in a new location with a new conductor. Wielding the baton is Dr. James Colonna, director of instrumental music and bands at Indiana University Purdue University at Fort Wayne (IPFW). The new concert venue is the Auer Performance Hall in the brand new $25 million John and Ruth Rinehart Music Center on the campus of IPFW.

The Community Band will be among the first musical ensembles to present a public performance in the new 1,600-seat auditorium when it opens its winter concert season there Tuesday, October 23. The 70-piece band will start the concert with an arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner composed by its new conductor.

“Doing an arrangement of the National Anthem grew out of an assignment I gave my music theory class at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming,” says says Dr. Colonna. “The students were to do an arrangement of a well known tune. They challenged me to do the same, so I chose the National Anthem in order to recognize the common people of the United States who do extraordinary things for their country. It turned out to be a very emotional experience.”

A wide variety of music, including American Overture for Band, Elegy for a Young American, American Civil War Fantasy, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, My Fair Lady, Chorale and Alleluia and Billboard March will be performed.

Dr. Colonna is just the fifth conductor of the Community Band in its nearly three decades of presenting concert band music to Fort Wayne audiences. He, like his predecessors, heads the IPFW instrumental music program and conducts the school’s Symphonic Winds.

One of them, Dr. William Schlacks, placed an article in The News-Sentinel announcing the organization of a community band in November 1979. Thirty-five people showed up for the first rehearsal in Neff Hall, and the School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Department of Music have been the ensemble’s sponsor ever since. The band, which now has more than 70 members (some are IPFW students), has formed a long-time relationship of sharing and cooperation with the university. It practices every Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. in the IPFW band room and uses the school’s tubas and percussion instruments.

The band has come full circle after initially presenting its concerts the first couple years in the Neff Hall auditorium. It moved its concert site to the Arts United Center for several years, then the Scottish Rite Auditorium for a dozen years then four years at the Embassy Theatre before returning to the IPFW campus. The Community Band also performs during the summer months at Foellinger Theater in Franke Park and makes several appearances during the Three Rivers Festival.

Concert goers can get to the new John and Ruth Rinehart Music Center at IPFW by turning into the campus at the stop light on Stellhorn Road just north of the foot bridge over the street. Drive to the traffic circle and turn right again (north) to the second entrance into the parking lot across from the tennis courts and turn left. Follow the drive toward the Williams Theater and park in front of the building. Parking is free.

Fort Wayne Area Community Band concert
Tuesday, October 23 - 7:30 p.m.
John and Ruth Rinehart Music Center
Indiana University Purdue University at Fort Wayne
Adults $5, Seniors $4, Students 6 and over $2,
IPFW students free with ID

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