Give us a listen, says leader of Youngstown concert band

By Lorraine Spencer

The leader wants young musicians to know about this opportunity to keep playing.

Youngstown is full of cultural opportunities — theater, music, dance, art — and its organizations are well-known.

For the most part.

Amid all the arts groups in the city, one thriving organization remains virtually unknown by all except those directly involved.

The Youngstown Area Community Concert Band has existed for 25 years, performing regularly throughout the area.

So why haven’t you heard of them?

That’s what Ed D’Angelo wants to know. D’Angelo, the band’s president, is one of its greatest fans and cheerleaders. He has been a member of YACCB for years and believes that is it one of the city’s best-kept secrets. That’s something he wants to change.

“Youngstown has not taken ownership of [the band],” D’Angelo said. Other communities embrace their local talent, he explained, but Youngstown has largely overlooked their group. Of the many events the band played in last year, only one was actually a city function.

On the other hand, Youngstown State University has supported the YACCB more than anyone in the city, said D’Angelo. Although YSU’s music schedule is always full, they make room for the band, which rehearses in Bliss Hall at YSU and has collaborated with YSU in concerts.

The YSU Summer Festival of the Arts is the YACCB’s only annual gig within the city limits.

The band has played at many venues throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania, including arts festivals, summer concerts and the open house at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna.

D’Angelo is particularly proud of the band’s involvement in the commemoration of the monument to the victims of 9/11 in Somerset, Pa. At that event, the YACCB played an original piece written for the occasion.

The concert band is looking for support to help keep it going. It is a nonprofit group, and donations go toward purchasing new music and supplies. Each band member provides his own instrument, which defrays costs.

D’Angelo is passionate about the band’s potential. “We are a very disciplined group,” he said. Currently, it has about 50 members, with the youngest a junior in high school and the oldest an 84-year-old. Twelve musicians have been with the band since its inception.

Rehearsals take place every Thursday year-round. The band performs six or seven concerts each summer, plus five or six Christmas concerts. The YACCB was created in 1983 by Bill Gretsinger, whose goal was to form a band made up of nonprofessionals. He played with the band for its first 10 years, but returned two years ago.

The band plays a wide variety of music, including classical, jazz and show tunes, said D’Angelo. Every concert is different, featuring soloists and collaborations with other bands.

The typical member has played in a concert or marching band in high school or college, but did not pursue music further. Most simply do not know where to go to continue playing, said D’Angelo. He hopes to change that.

D’Angelo is especially dedicated to recruiting young adults right after they graduate from high school. Many high school students play in their school band, but forget about playing once they graduate. D’Angelo hopes they will find a place with the YACCB.

He also hopes to recruit musicians from within the city. “We’re the Youngstown Concert Band, but very few of us actually live in Youngstown,” he said. He’d like to see the band reach 60 members.

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