Pekin Park Concert Band Begins 94th Season
Today marks the first live music performance of the Pekin Park Concert Band in Pekin’s Mineral Springs Park, beginning at 6:30 p.m. This concert will mark the band’s 94th season and is free to the public.
The Pekin Park Concert Band formally incorporated in 1927. However, Civil War veteran musicians played regularly together near the Court House prior to this time, sponsored by a Pekin based cigar shop. The summer concert series has since become one of Pekin’s longest standing traditions.
The group has grown over the years to a professional concert band that plays throughout Central Illinois. Long-standing Director Steve Skinner celebrates leading the band for nearly 30 years. Despite being a trombone player, Skinner joined the band in 1967 when an opening was available for baritone. Skinner remarks this was the year the Pekin Park District debuted the “The Showmobile”, the portable stage that has been well-loved and heavily utilized at concerts, festivals and more throughout Central Illinois. After a long life, The Showmobile has been informally retired from performances this year as the Pekin Park District explores options to update and repair or replace the over 50-year-old unit.
“I think I played the first concert they had on it,” Skinner recalls. “I was maybe a freshman in college or so. We’re hoping this is temporary, as it does affect the sound. The players can’t hear each other as well. But we’re trying different seating arrangements and we’re getting through it.”
Despite not having the stage, Pekin Park Concert Band will still be playing adjacent to the Pavilion for about an hour and a half some Sunday evenings throughout the summer. Skinner has selected a variety of musical arrangements that include marches, slower tempo pieces, modern-recognizable classics like Disney songs and popular Broadway scores, and the band’s iconic theme: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.
Skinner invites families of all ages to come out to the park for the concert. “When I was a child, I grew up in Washington, IL. There were several areas with municipal bands. They had [concerts] right there on the square. Where the fountain is now used to be a bandstand. That really piqued my interest and I ended up joining the musicians’ union as junior in high school.” Steve Skinner went on to have a full career in music spanning over 50 years and still counting.
Skinner also remarks the summer concert series may be a child’s first opportunity to hear a live musical performance. As a paid, professional band with full concert instrumentation, patrons can hear a variety of sounds. With everything from oboes to French horns, to baritones and more, this free event can spark a life-long interest in the arts.
The Pekin Park Concert Band play July 18th, July 25th and August 1st from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This is a free event to the public. Bring a lawn chair, or just come out to the Lagoon or playground area to enjoy the live performance of band. For more information about the band or updates regarding rain cancellations, visit their Facebook page .