Band awarded grant for concerts

Gloversville Citizens Band receives $4,000

Conductor Thomas Gerbino, left, leads the Gloversville Civic Band through its first free performance of the summer last year in Melchoir Park. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

GLOVERSVILLE — Gloversville Citizens Band, Inc. has been awarded a $4,000 Community Arts Grant from Saratoga Arts to support this year’s free summer concert series at Melchior Park.

Community Arts Grants from Saratoga Arts support artists, non-profit organizations and government departments in Saratoga, Fulton and Montgomery counties, in partnership with qualifying organizations and artists, to present arts and cultural programs of high artistic merit in local communities funded by the state Council on the Arts.

The Gloversville Civic Band has long continued the annual tradition of presenting the “Summer Band Concerts in the Park” series free of charge in Melchior Park in July and August for the entertainment of area residents organized by the Gloversville Citizens Band Board of Directors through fundraising, direct donations, sponsorships and grants.

“This has been a tradition, band concerts in the park, since probably the 1940s or 50s,” Gloversville Citizens Band Board of Directors President Diana Perrella said Monday. “Many in the audience have wonderful memories of attending, as well as performing in, concerts with their grandparents and parents.”

“The tradition continues with their children and grandchildren,” she added.

The Gloversville Citizens Band has been a recipient of the Community Arts Grant from Saratoga Arts for several years, including 2018 when the organization received a $2,000 award, but Perrella said this year’s $4,000 award exceeded her expectations.

“The biggest grant is $5,000, so for them to give this to us, I’m thrilled,” Perrella said. “This is an extraordinary thing.”

The Gloversville Civic Band features 39 professional musicians from Fulton and Montgomery counties conducted by Tom Gerbino during hour long concerts performed on six consecutive Wednesdays at 7 p.m. commencing each year after July 4. Performances span an eclectic selection from the Great American Songbook, contemporary hits, classical compositions and more as curated by Gerbino.

“The grant is for the whole summer, not one particular concert, it’s for the whole series,” Perrella said.

Perrella explained that each concert costs $1,680 to produce with musicians receiving $40 for each performance while the conductor receives $80. The participation of talented performers with the ability to sight read is key to the series’ success as musicians have only one hour of rehearsal time before each concert.

Additional costs are incurred for printing materials, including programs that are available at each concert and lawn signs advertising the concerts, along with the donation required for use of the auditorium at the Lexington Center in the event of rain.

While the generosity of community members and sponsors along with grant awards have funded the series in past years, Perrella said this year’s grant award will help the citizens band purchase advertising for the first time in hopes of reaching a wider audience.

“We want more people to come to the concerts,” Perrella said. “Not just the neighborhood, because a lot of people from up on the east end go to the concerts, we want to be able to reach the whole city.”

Perrella said the concert series has long relied on free means of advertising, but the board is hoping additional advertising will draw in new audience members from throughout Fulton County.

Within the city, the citizens band also plans to explore options to assist residents interested in attending the concerts who are not within walking distance of Melchior Park located on Kingsboro Avenue and do not have other means of transportation. Perrella noted a more centrally located venue for the performances downtown is not currently feasible as the concerts require a semi-enclosed handicap accessible space for musicians, a storage area for supplies and public restrooms.

Perrella said appreciatively that the Community Arts Grant will support the citizens band in its continued goal of maintaining the summer concert series featuring professional musicians providing area residents access to a live cultural experience free of charge.

“They’re family events, they’re outdoors and they’re making use of public property, because the park belongs to the city. They’re free of charge so people who don’t have the funds to pay for a concert get to see quality band concerts for free,” Perrella said. “The experience is intimate for both the musicians and the audience, particularly for the children.”

“They’re worth it for the kids,” she added.