As far back as 1935 city fathers recognized the need for a musical group that represented the community. While not the first year a band existed, the city renewed and continued to acknowledge the cultural importance of a community band. In fact, the band can be traced back to as early as June 1918 as the Rapid City Military band. Over time archives tell a story of a band that sent soldiers off to war, provided dance entertainment, supported the folks left behind, and marched in patriotic parades, not unlike today’s band whose many long-time members provide weekly free concerts to audiences that range in age from 2 to 92.
The band today is composed of approximately 65 men and women, students and adults, professional musicians and talented amateurs from all walks of life. The band of 1918 touted 40 men and according to Walter G. Miser writing in Holiday Greetings from Rapid City, South Dakota in the Black Hills published in 1920 by The Rapid City Daily Journal “every member a booster, and bandsman and a gentleman.” Just as Fourth of July celebrants enjoy a concert in the park today, the celebrants of 1918 enjoyed the premier concert at Spayde’s Park.
The music directors program concerts today much like the directors of the past: classic band literature, popular music of the day, all usually bookended with a march and the “Star Spangled Banner”.
And so the tradition continues.