Philip Edelman conducts the Bangor Band at the Bangor Public Library in June 2018. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

After close to three years spent either not performing at all or performing outdoors only due to the pandemic, the Bangor Band will finally return to indoor concerts this Sunday — and under the baton of its new conductor.

The venerable 163-year-old community band will give its first indoor concert since 2019 at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6 at Peakes Auditorium at Bangor High School, to be directed by Philip Edelman, who came on board as conductor earlier this year after the retirement of longtime conductor Chip Farnham.

That’ll be followed up quickly by a Veterans Day concert at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11 at the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor.

Both concerts are free, though donations are encouraged.

Edelman is a music education professor at the University of Maine, where he is also director of UMaine’s concert band and, as of this year, director of the School of Performing Arts. Prior to coming to UMaine in 2016, he lived and taught in Kansas City, Missouri, where he directed another community band, the Roeland Park New Horizons Band.

“I’ve always had this crazy love for community bands,” said Edelman, who was an assistant conductor of the Bangor Band between 2016 and 2022, alongside current assistant conductor Scott Burditt. “I really love working with people who had instruments in their lives growing up, and came back to it later in life, or who are even learning an instrument for the first time.”

Playing music together is something Edelman believes could help many of the problems society is facing right now.

“Every week, there’s a group of people who care about each other and love making music together who come together to play,” Edelman said. “Everybody has lots of things going on in their lives, but they make time for it. There are so many things that divide us, but music is one of the few things that can bring people together.”

The Bangor Band performs during the Summer Concert at the Waterfront on July 12, 2016. Credit: Ashley L. Conti / BDN

During much of the pandemic, the band rehearsed outdoors at Bangor Parks and Recreation, where before the pandemic they would rehearse indoors. Trumpet player Claude Junkins said doing everything outdoors was uniquely challenging.

“Some evenings at dusk the mosquitoes would descend on us and our conductors would bravely move along, trying not to swat at the pesky bugs for fear of dropping the beat,” he said.

But the pandemic actually had the unexpected effect of helping the Bangor Band to grow. The organization now has more than 70 members — so many that it can no longer fit into its former practice room at Bangor Parks and Recreation headquarters on Main Street and now rehearses at UMaine’s Class of 1944 Hall.

“It is truly amazing,” Junkins said. “We are very fortunate that we are able to utilize the band room at UMaine. And we fill that room up pretty well.”

Edelman said that being part of an organization that has existed since before the Civil War is a privilege for him, and he’s excited to bring the Bangor Band well into its 163rd year and beyond.

“My Tuesday nights are the highlight of my week,” Edelman said. “Not only are we part of this incredible history, but we get to have a ton of fun.”

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.