By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Concert band weaves history into performance
Members of the Gainesville First United Methodist Church Believer’s Band rehearses at Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium Tuesday evening. The band will be performing a concert at the auditorium this Sunday.

‘The Great Adventure’
What: A concert by First United Methodist Church’s Believers Concert Band
3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Pearce Auditorium, Brenau University, 500 Washington St., Gainesville
How much: Free; donations accepted

The original practices of the Believers Concert Band required a lot of grease, loosening rusty wheels.

The handful of members who started the concert band in 2002, led by local retired urologist Lee Martin, had experience playing a variety of instruments — and all of them hadn’t touched them in at least three decades.

Along with Martin on trumpet, the original band included Bill Clements on clarinet, Muryl Schumaker on baritone, Johnny Garden on bass guitar and Richard Petty conducting. With the help of Sue Tippits, who at the time was in charge of older adult programs at Gainesville First United Methodist Church, the first practices of the Believers Concert Band began.

Today, with the support of the church’s director of Music Ministry, Sam Marley, the band is an ecumenical bunch that spans ages and skill levels. Petty, the band’s director and GFUMC member, said a few others joined the group years ago asking for lessons in the process, while other members include band students from local middle schools.

The result is an eclectic mix of music lovers who will be performing Sunday at Pearce Auditorium at Brenau University. Admission is free, and the program, "The Great Adventure," will tell the tale of Gainesville from it’s humble start as Mule Camp Springs until today.

"We started the program up and now we probably have, I think, 50 or 55 in the concert Sunday," said Petty, also a co-founder of the band who has decades of band directing experience. "They’ve developed into a very nice sounding band now."

In its early days, the band gained support through the church by playing concerts for different Sunday school classes.

"We just worked different Sunday school classrooms and people started coming to the band," Petty said. "In fact, the first three who came to the band, they’d never played before. They said, would we teach them how to play an instrument, so we started giving them lessons, and I said, as soon as they learned to play three notes I’d rearrange the music so they can play."

Today, there are seven members who, when they came to the band, had never played a note before. But that doesn’t mean the band won’t tackle a range of music in Sunday’s concert.

The theme allows the Believers Concert Band to play a range of selections from different eras, so the concert will feature old-time gospel, some swing, some jazz, some showtunes and even some movie classics, like John Williams’ "Raiders of the Lost Ark" theme songs.

A storyline will weave all the musical selections together, and it will be narrated by local radio personality Joel Williams.

"We’ll have some gospel, of course we’ll play the well-known marches," Petty said. "We’ll have ‘Stars and Stripes Forever,’ we’ll also play jazz, swing, we’ll be playing music from the ballet ‘Sylvia,’ we’ll be playing some ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’"

That’s one thing to note about the band’s concerts, Petty added — there’s always something for everyone in the selections the band plays.

"We basically play all styles of music because we found the biggest thing people say about our concerts is they like the choices of music we play."

Along with the diverse musical selection, members of the church-sponsored group also represent a diverse set of denominations. Petty said there are about nine different denominations represented in the members of Believers Concert Band.

"That’s one of the uniquenesses of the band," Petty said. "First United Methodist sponsored it, but at the same time we encourage anybody who wants to play and have a faith-based experience. And we want to encourage that."

Regional events