Need a little lift in your Christmas spirit? McMinnville’s highly acclaimed Silver and Gold Band will once again be offering two free Christmas concerts this holiday season.
On Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m., the band will be at McMinnville’s First Baptist Church. This will be a performance of songs that reflect the true meaning of Christmas. Selections will include “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Silent Night,” “Christmas Around the World,” and many other traditional Christmas songs.
On Sunday, Dec. 13, at 3 p.m., the band will play many Christmas favorites in an upbeat, jazzy concert at the central area of Three Star Mall. Favorites such as “Silver Bells,” Winter Wonderland,” and “Let it Snow” will be played in addition to songs such as “Feliz Navidad,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” and “Jingle Bell Jazz.”
The Silver and Gold Band is reported to be the oldest continuously operating community band in the state, tracing its beginnings to the 1800s.
Neil Schultz researched the history of the band.
“The McMinnville Siler and Gold Band is the oldest community band of its kind in the state of Tennessee. The band began in 1871 as the Warren House Cornet Band, which was sponsored by the Warren House Hotel and performed for the hotel guests, as well as the community at large. From the band’s beginning as the Warren House Cornet Band to the date of this writing, there has been the continuous and active existence of a community band in McMinnville for 133 years. During the first 50 years of its existence, the name of the band changed, but the core group of the community musicians remained the same. After the Warren House Hotel went out of business, the band was supported by the Southern College of Photography of McMinnville. The founder of the college, Dad Lively, as well as many of the faculty and students became a dedicated part of the McMinnville community band along with other members of the community.
“In 1920, the McMinnville Community Band officially became the McMinnville Silver Band. This same year, a photograph of the band was made on the campus of the Southern College of Photography showing the band director, Capt. Allesandro, several College of Photography students, one being identified as Swartz, and local community members including Walling Fraley, Tom Burns, Brown Oliver, whose son Eddie still plays in the band, Joe Sam Robertson, Joe Robertson Jr., John McCurdy, C.W. Zwingle, Claude McCollum, and Bernice Cantrell.
“A key factor in the continuous existence and success of the band has been the dedicated work of several men who have been the directors of the band. These band directors have been known by the title of captain. Prior to 1920, the names of the directors have not been found by this writer. However, in 1920, the director was Capt. Allesandro, and, in 1928, Albert I. Cina was the director. In 1936, Capt. Brown Oliver was the director, and, in that year, he formed a band at McMinnville Central High School which performed with and became a part of the Silver Band.
“According to the Southern Standard newspaper of McMinnville, during the late 1930s, Capt. Oliver’s band was just about the only school musical organization in the small towns of Middle Tennessee. Its appearance at the football games often created more excitement than the pigskin action. Citizens of nearby towns soon because aroused in establishing school bands. From this, Capt. Oliver became known as the Father of the School Band Movement of Middle Tennessee.
“In the late 1940s, the Warren County School established its own band department, and the Silver Band was no longer a part of the school program. However, many band members still follow the long established tradition of being a part of the Silver and Gold Band, as well as playing in the school bands.
“In the early 1940s, Capt. Robert J. Racely was the band director, and, after Capt. Racely left, Captain Oliver became director a second time until his death in 1966. After Capt. Oliver’s death, Paul Turner because the director, and, in 1969, Sam Cordell because the director until 2003. Capt. Cordell’s over 30 years of dedicated directorship is second only in length of service to Capt. Brown Oliver.
“In the 1950s, due to a misquote by a news announcer, the McMinnville Silver Band became the McMinnville Silver and Gold Band. That name has been in use for the last half century. However, by whatever name, McMinnville has had a unique community band that has persisted for well over a century. The members of the band are men and women, girls and boys, young and old from all walks of life. A high school student, a physician, a circuit court judge, and a carpenter will play trumpet together, or a welder will play tuba. A fireman, an engineer, a newspaper editor, a postman, a nurse, a banker, and a housewife all are part of this band. The Silver and Gold Band is truly a beautiful combination of humanity playing music together. They participate for varying times. Some leave and go to college, and some, like Eddie Oliver, the son of Capt. Brown, is still playing clarinet after 60 years, and six others including this writer have been a part of the band for over 50 years.
“These band members play at county fairs, the Fourth of July celebrations, Octoberfest in the park, Pork ‘n Bands, Christmas parades, schools, shopping malls, or patriotic events in surrounding counties or homes. They love to play for all kinds of events, and they persist in giving the people of their community the opportunity to be a part of or hear the music of a hometown band.”
Today, the band is composed of more than 30 area musicians playing woodwinds, brass, and percussion instruments. The band can play marches, Broadway tunes, waltzes and jazz numbers for patriotic celebrations, festivals, county fairs, and Christmas programs and is directed by former Warren County
High School band director Mike Chilcutt.
Any interested musicians are invited to attend the band’s Monday night practices. For additional information, call Chilcutt at 473-3856 or visit the band’s website at www.silverandgoldband.com or visit the group’s Facebook page at Silver and Gold Band McMinnville.