The Arlington Heights Community Concert Band has played in the area for more than 40 years, but this year its 70 members hold a rare distinction: They are opening up the outdoor concert season in Arlington Heights, performing one day before the Sounds of Summer takes the stage at Harmony Park.
Band members will take their seats at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the amphitheater at North School Park in Arlington Heights. They are calling the concert, “Player’s Choice,” and its selections range from “Phantom of the Opera,” to “Les Mis” and “Rocky on Broadway.” The grand finale will be a blast, literally, as members combine with the 30-piece Chicago Brass Band to play Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”
Band Director Pietro Pisello is excited about the evening and for his community band members to combine with the British-styled Chicago Brass Band. Pisello describes the musicianship in his band as very high, played mostly by community members who love playing their instruments and want to keep music and band part of their lives.
“All of them have played at least through high school,” Pisello says, “and maybe about a third of them also played in college.”
And they come from all walks of life, with only 10% of them having worked in the music profession. Take Andrew Baak, for example. He is a recent DePaul graduate, who played trombone in the jazz and marching bands at Hoffman Estates High School.
“I didn’t get to play with a band as a college student, so this opportunity to play with Arlington Heights Community band has been really exciting for me,” Baak says. “It’s satisfying to play challenging music and work together to perfect our craft.”
Another member, Erik Zipper, played flute and saxophone at Fremd. When he attended Purdue to earn a degree in mechanical engineering, he played saxophone in its concert band and was the piccolo section leader in Purdue’s marching band. Playing in the Arlington Heights Community Band allows him to try his hand at playing bass, piccolo, tenor sax and even percussion.
As their director, Pisello is an experienced musician, having led marching, concert, pep and jazz bands at the high school and middle school levels. He currently directs the band program at Thorton Fractional North High School, by day, but enjoys working at night with these motivated community members who want to keep playing.
“We don’t have a grueling audition process, and we don’t cut people,” Pisello says. “We meet people where they are at and help them become better, while still keeping a high standard of musicianship.”