Community Band, Chorus Celebrates 50 Years

Courtesy photo  Members of the Alameda Community Band recently entertained the community with a concert at Kofman Auditorium

Community Band, Chorus Celebrates 50 Years

On Dec. 4 the Alameda Community Band and Chorus offered a free holiday concert at the Kofman Auditorium. The next day the band and chorus appeared at the Mayor’s Holiday Tree Lighting.  

Volunteers from Alameda and surrounding cities make up the band, which is celebrating its 50th year. Jim Hewitt, a former band director of Encinal High School, founded this community institution in 1965.  Michael Wirgler directs the 20- to 30-person brass, wind and rhythm ensemble. He retired from teaching music for the Oakland Unified School District after 33 years and continues as an active performer, teacher and composer.

Band members have varied musical backgrounds. They are dedicated musicians with a common interest in playing music and improving their skills while having fun. “New members are always welcome,” said Wirgler. “Anyone who loves to play music can join. We play an eclectic collection of band music that spans the late 1800’s to the modern, including marches, classical, Dixieland, show tunes, swing, even a folk song or two.”

Wirgler pointed out that the band is a community ensemble with members of all ranges of ability and all ages. “The music we play spans the way from easy to hard,” he said. 

The band runs as a class sponsored by Alameda’s Recreation and Parks Department; the cost is about $70 twice a year, but you’re welcome to just sit in to start with. There are about four full-scale public performances a year, with new material each time. Also, numerous members of the band informally fill in at various Alameda community events (The Mayor’s Christmas tree lighting and Memorial Day ceremonies, for example.)

The band rehearses most Tuesday nights, except in the summer from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Encinal High, 210 Central Ave. No audition is needed, if 
interested, just come and play. Email to learn more. The band has a website and a Facebook page,, where you can learn about upcoming concerts.