Trumpeter Will Schmalbeck (Photo: Marty McKay)ALTON, ILLINOIS – The Alton Municipal Band saw another great turnout at Haskell Park last Sunday in spite of the looming clouds overhead keeping everyone wondering.

Weather challenges are nothing new to director David Drillinger who continued to press on through the program and has been conducting the band for 35 years. AMB member and trumpeter Will Schmalbeck performed some awesome arrangements with his jazz group during the second half of the program but called the concert when raindrops were felt near the end of the hour. (Photo: Marty McKay)A favorite moment is selecting one of the kids to conduct the band during the parade around the park. Last Sunday the parade was led by members of the Junior League of Greater Alton (JLGA) and we want to thank them for being at the park to help organize the kids. This week members of the YWCA will be on hand to help organize the kiddie parade, and they are asking any young participants to bring a pot or pan to practice parade drumming skills during the traditional march around the park. With a playground nearby, the band is happy to offer some extra fun to young families attending the park with their children.

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Now in WEEK 6, the Alton Municipal Band will be easing back to a normal performance season with both concerts featuring the full band in the gazebo at Riverview Park at 8pm on Thursday and again at Haskell Park at 7pm on Sunday. Nearly 100% of the members are vaccinated which is great progress. We have appreciated the patience and support of everyone in the community as the conductors scrambled to organize ensembles and select music to keep concerts going in the parks and at the Alton Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market on Saturdays and do it safely. With outdoor masking guidelines changing the band is venturing to the gazebo as a full group this week for the first time since 2019.

The theme is LET’s GO with the band under the direction of David Drillinger performing “GO Galop”, “Theme from New York, New York”, “Italian Rhapsody”, “Olympic Fanfare and Theme”, “Ballet Egyptian”, “Children’s March”, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, “Chicago Tribune March”, and “The Great Escape”. The band will be featuring the vocal talents of Susan Parton Stanard performing “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” by Buron Lane arr. By Robert Russell Bennett, “Sentimental Journey” by Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer arr. by Pete Havely, and “They All Laughed” by George and Ira Gershwin arr. By Nelson Riddle. She will be stepping out on to a brand-new soloist stage custom built for the gazebo by Dan Leonard, a former trumpeter with the Alton Municipal Band in the 1990s. Creating a safe performance space for our members and soloists is a top priority.

Featured Vocalist Susan Parton StanardGuest artist Susan Parton Stanard, born and raised in Alton, went on to be a performer of operas, concerts, and recitals for more than 35 years. She continues as a tireless performer, instructor and mentor to many vocalists. She has appeared as Carmen in Carmen, and as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana. She has graced stages as Tosca in Tosca, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and Elisabeth in Tannhauser, among others. As a concert artist, she appears in recitals as well as in performances of Verdi’s “Requiem”, Vivaldi’s “Gloria” and Handel’s “Messiah” to name a few. Susan made her recording debut in a Columbia Records recording of the Verdi Requiem with Ezio Flagello. She combines her background as an operatic and concert artist with more than 30 years’ experience in college level music education conducting master classes and lectures across the United States and Europe. She has served as vocal coach/accompanist to such operatic greats as Mario Sereni and Ezio Flagello.

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Ms. Parton Stanard earned her Bachelor of Music in voice and opera from Jacksonville University, where she also obtained a Master of Arts in music education. Susan taught at Jacksonville University, Mayport Junior High School, and Florida State College. She was the Co-Director of Vocal and Choral Education at Douglas Anderson High School for the Performing Arts, in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2002 she returned to the Riverbend until her retirement in July of 2021. She is recognized Woman of Distinction by the YWCA and recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Emerson Electric Company. She won first place in the Florida State as well as the Eastern Regionals of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and was named the Outstanding Artist of the Year by the New Jersey State Opera. Stanard was selected for inclusion in the eighth edition of Who’s Who in American Education and multiple editions of Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who of American Women. In 2018, in recognition of outstanding contributions to her profession, Susan was awarded the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Piano and Vocal Music by the Music Teachers National Association.

In 2021, Ms. Parton Stanard retired from Lewis and Clark Community College where she was Director of Vocal Studies and Choral Ensembles for 20 years. She organized many popular brown bag performances, directed the Concert Choir and Limited Edition Vocal Ensemble, and was a regular talent at faculty recitals. She spent many hours preparing students for National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competitions, and even organized a trip to New York to sing at Carnegie Hall for students and members of the choir. The trip to New York was truly memorable for all who spent extra hours preparing and were lucky enough to experience her first-class tour of the city. She currently is doing music ministry at the Evangelical Church in Godfrey on Sundays, teaching private lessons, and can be found performing for weddings and other special events.

Concerts in the Park is a 9-week summer concert season which runs through August 8, 2021. WEEK 7, themed AN EVENING WITH ERIN, will feature guest vocalist Erin Bode in from Nashville, Tennessee; WEEK 8 will be our ever-popular CHILDREN’S CONCERT, featuring STL TV/Radio personality Heidi Glaus narrating the playful story “Peter and the Wolf” and returning clarinet talent Sophie Browning who was rained out WEEK 3; and WEEK 9, themed SO LONG, FAREWELL, will feature vocalist Robyn Brandon.

Now in its 131st consecutive season of summer concerts, the Alton Municipal Band welcomes and encourages the community to visit the parks for some quality outdoor time together with family and friends and bring a lawn chair to listen to some of the best music around. Audience members are still encouraged to follow the state and city health and safety guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing particularly for those who are unvaccinated.

The city’s continuing support for these FREE outdoor concerts is a wonderful Alton tradition dating back to 1891. Anyone interested in donating to further support expanded ensemble performances and concert activities in other parks and venues can send a check to city hall payable to the Alton Municipal Band Special Fund or make donations on-line through the Alton city website at Join our Friends of Alton Municipal Band group on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest happenings, and feel free to share your memories, pictures, and best band moments. Auditions for musicians interested in playing the Alton Municipal Band take place in the fall. If you have other questions, let us know at and thank you for your support.

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