Something old, something new — there will be something for everyone at this year’s Great Geauga County Fair Band concerts! In celebration of the band’s 75th season, band director Greg Hillis, has planned a diverse repertoire of entertaining musical numbers. Hillis, who played French horn with the band for ten years before becoming its director in 2004, explains, “I start picking the compositions for the next year as soon as the fair closes, and I like to make sure that different genres and different generations are represented.”
As has been the custom for the last two decades, this year’s concerts will include classical and popular tunes, as well as many traditional Sousa marches, plus a few wonderful surprises. Since 2013 is the 200th anniversary of the births of two famous classical composers, Hillis has included Giuseppe Verdi’s “Grand March” from Aida and Richard Wagner’s “Pilgrim’s Chorus” from the opera Tannhauser to the repertoire. The band will also be performing for the first time a nostalgic number written in 1938, which is the same year in which the Great Geauga County Fair Band was started, as a salute to the many community members who have shared their musical talents at the fair over the last 75 years. Vocalist Lindsey Leonard (formerly Sandham) will perform that number, whose title will remain under wraps until the fair opens on August 29.
Hillis believes the growing diversity of its repertoire is the biggest change the band has made since its founding. He explains, “At one time, we were basically a Sousa band, playing marches from the early part of the 20th Century. I’ve tried to keep the repertoire musically interesting to the band members and audience members by introducing 20 or 25 new pieces each year. But the nostalgic feeling, the format and style of a Sousa concert has not changed.”
According to Hillis, although the majority of musicians in the band are middle-aged, children in their teens and adults of every age are welcome. He believes, “Working with different age groups, with all the experience they bring, keeps things fun for all of us.”
The Great Geauga County Fair opens on Thursday, August 29. The Great Geauga County Fair Band concerts will take place on Thursday 8/29, at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; on Friday 8/30, at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; on Saturday 8/31 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; on Sunday 9/1 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; and on Monday 9/2 at 1:30 pm and 4:30 p.m. In addition, there will be two concerts performed by the Jr. Fair Band: one on Saturday 8/31 at 11:30 a.m. and another on Monday 9/2 at noon.
To learn more about the Great Geauga County Fair Band, please visit our website or call Shirley Hamilton at 440-213-9409.