Has the Bexley Meadow Music Band played its swan song?
It has unless the group can come up with $3,500 in donations before April, warned Gary Tirey, who helped found the popular ensemble that has played at such events as the Fourth of July celebration for 23 years.
The money is needed to hire the 28 professional musicians who augment the residents and students who make up the rest of the band.
The financial shortfall comes due to city budget cuts. Parks and Recreation Director
Doug Jackson explained that he had to eliminate the line item for the band when his special events budget went from $19,000 in 2007 (mostly spent for the Labor Day block party) to $9,000 for the coming year.
But Jackson does not want to see the music end, and believes the band concerts in Jeffrey Park have been an important part of community celebrations.
It is especially important to maintain the tradition with Bexley celebrating its centennial this year, Jackson pointed out.
Tirey, a Bexley resident for 40 years and a retired professor of music at Otterbein University, started the Bexley Meadow Music Band in 1985 with other area musicians, including Capital University professor Tim Swinehart, in cooperation with the parks and recreation department.
They started off by holding four concerts a year, but recently have cut their schedule back to two appearances, during the Fourth of July events and the Labor Day party.
In its heyday, the band boasted 40 professional musicians. That number has been reduced, and has been supplemented with such local notables as Jeff Schneider, Bexley High School’s band director, who performs for free, and students and alumni from Capital and Otterbein.
The band has specialized in patriotic pieces and marches in what Tirey describes as "audience-friendly programs."
They also play classical selections. Last year, Gene Allen, one of the leading tenors in the area, performed "Nessun Dorma" with the band.
Tirey is also known for organizing the "Merry Tuba Christmas" programs at Capital for 23 years.
For his contributions to the community, the Bexley Celebrations Association named Tirey its Citizen of the Year two years ago.
Tirey is confident that the Bexley Meadow Music Band will be able to find the donations it needs to continue.
The organization will also be seeking corporate donations and grants, Jackson said.
They receive 20 percent of their budget from the musicians’ union trust fund.
Tirey needs to book the professional musicians by March, or April at the latest.
With more donations, the band could bring back its full schedule and also bring in the Columbus Jazz Arts Group and other performers, Tirey said.
"It’s something that enhances the community," Jackson said. "And with the venue of the park, you can’t beat it."
Those interested in donating or obtaining information can contact Doug Jackson at 559-4300.