RANDOLPH – The South Royalton Band, often called the South Royalton Town Band, will headline a free community concert at Gifford Medical Center on Wednesday, July 11. The concert is the first public event in Gifford’s new park space since it was completed earlier this year.
Conducted by Dick Ellis, the South Royalton Band plays a mixture of marches, songs from Broadway, novelties, Dixieland music, patriotic numbers and features some soloists.
Marches include the work of American conductor John Philip Sousa, the “March king.” Melodies from such musicals as “The Music Man” and “The Sound of Music” will be heard.
“We try to have enough variety that everyone hears something that they enjoy,” said Ellis, who is in his 68th year of conducting the band and is known as this area’s “music man.”
Comprised of about 30 musicians from around central Vermont, the South Royalton Band is among the few surviving town bands in the region. Ellis credits word of mouth with attracting talent to the band and hard work with keeping it alive.
Ellis has dedicated his life to creating music in central Vermont as the band’s conductor; as the founder of high school bands in Randolph, Bethel, Rochester and his native South Royalton; and through the family business, Ellis Music Co., which supplies about 4,000 instruments to students in 350 Vermont and New Hampshire schools.
“My ambition was to give every youngster in Vermont the opportunity to play an instrument,” Ellis said.
Seven of Ellis’ former high school students still play in the band along with his own son and daughter. The band plays Thursdays on the South Royalton green and around central Vermont.
“I like to promote the arts as much as I can and Randolph for many years has been a place without a park,” he said.
When Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin started talking about including a park at the hospital, Ellis was immediately interested. It was an opportunity, he said, to support two of his favorite things – the hospital and the arts.
“I was very glad to see something like that happening,” said Ellis, who helped fund the park construction, which was built entirely with donations.
Now Ellis’ band kicks off what the hospital hopes are other community events in the park with a free concert.
“We hope many community members come out to enjoy this new space and the familiar favorite that is the South Royalton Town Band,” said Ashley Lincoln, director of development and public relations at Gifford.
The concert starts at 7 p.m. and is expected to last until 8:30 p.m. Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or a blanket, and even a picnic supper. The rain date is Wednesday, July 18. If the weather is questionable, visit www.giffordmed.org on the afternoon of July 11 for an update.
The Gifford park is located between the hospital and the Thrift Shop on South Main Street (Route 12) south of Randolph village. Ample parking is available onsite.