Ithaca and the surrounding areas have a rich history of outstanding community bands. The most noted is the famous Conway Band which performed both locally and nationally during the early 1900's and gained a national following.
The Ithaca Concert Band was founded in 1976 by a group of people who realized the community was missing an important part of its musical foundation — a community band. The band was formed with the intention of providing live, quality musical performances at places accessible to all people of Tompkins County and to offer local musicians a challenging and rewarding musical experience in an encouraging environment. To this day, the band carries on its original mission.
The band's first conductor was Joan Beeler. During the beginning stages in 1976, Joan and the founding members worked hard to secure funding, rehearsal space, and additional musicians to perform. In 1977, Joan left the band and Henry Neubert took over the leadership. Henry, a professor at the Ithaca College School of Music, conducted the band until July 1999 — an amazing 22 years.
At the beginning of the 2000 summer season the band welcomed Beth Peterson and Keith Kaiser (faculty members at Ithaca College) who share the role of conductor. Kaiser was succeeded in 2011 by Mark Fonder, also an Ithaca College faculty member.
During the summer of 2015, the band welcomed co-conductors Arthur Carichner and Richard (Rick) Eleck Jr.
The Ithaca Concert Band is a popular group, drawing crowds in excess of 300 at its performances on the Ithaca Commons during the summer. The band is also popular with the area's musicians and has had over 500 people who have played with the band over the years. Believe it or not, we have people in the band now who were there when it all began.
The band plays many concerts throughout the year, both inside and outside, at locations around Tompkins County and sometimes farther away. In addition to the summer Commons concerts, the band plays at fundraisers for charitable organizations, at more formal indoor concerts, and at local events such as picnics and carnivals. The band is the community's band and the band's Board of Directors selects concert venues that allow us to be seen and heard by many different people at a variety of locations.