SHERIDAN — Music brings people together, and under informal circumstances, local musicians gather throughout the summer to perform as the Sheridan Community Band.
As a part of the Concerts in the Park summer series, musicians young and old are invited to join the band at the Kendrick Park Bandshell on the Monday before a Tuesday performance to prepare for the upcoming show. Open to anyone who can read music, the only requirement to play on Tuesday is to attend the rehearsal the Monday before.
“It is really something that the musicians want to do for the city of Sheridan,” Concerts in the Park organizer Mike Kuzara said.
The tradition dates back decades, Kuzara said — and for good reason.
Research shows that music increases contact, coordination and cooperation with others and enhances cultural cohesion. Gathering together to play music for community members, then, also helps people understand what others are thinking and feeling, according to a 2013 review of the research on music by Stefan Koelsch, music psychologist at the Freie University Berlin.
“Concerts in the Park is a tradition that has been going on for a very long time,” Kuzara said. “It is something that the musicians really want to do, and there is really no other good venue for students and adults to put on a concert all together like that. We are happy to be able to provide that.”
Information about the Sheridan Community Band is primarily spread through word of mouth, Kuzara said.
“The word goes out, and someone will know people, who know other people, and then anyone who wants to play can come and play,” he explained. “It’s open to anyone, but they have to come to the practice on Monday if they want to play on Tuesday.”
There is a difference between the Sheridan Community Band that plays in the annual Sheridan WYO Rodeo parade, and the Concerts in the Park band, though both share local musicians. During Rodeo Week, the Concerts in the Park may see less participation, as many local musicians are preparing to march in the parade, Kuzara explained. This year, the Sheridan Community Band was scheduled to play the week before rodeo, and around 20 musicians gathered for the performance — but some weeks, the Community Band will draw up to 50 or 60 participants.
“We have had people from Buffalo and Montana and even Cheyenne and Casper, though it is mostly Sheridan people,” Kuzara said. “It is mostly adults, but it can be anyone, and some of our people are very young.”
Concerts in the Park has been going on for at least 40 or 50 years, though the history is foggy — and it may be decades longer, Kuzara said, because he thinks there was a break in tradition during World War II. Funded through the John and Dorothy Duncan Trust, the concerts are free and open to the public, but the annual budget is around $8,000.
Practice starts on Mondays at 7 p.m. and concerts are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
July 16: Doc Fields Cyberdelic Voo Doo from Cody
July 23: Community Band conducted by Pat Maloney
July 30: Midnight Special Band from Sheridan
Aug. 6: Sheridan Community Band conducted by Diane Knutson
Aug. 13: Nu-Blu from Siler City, North Carolina
Aug. 20: Crossroad Station from Ohio