By Mark Ambrogi
As a former high school French horn player and son of a band director, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard is an enthusiastic supporter of bands.
So, naturally, he didn’t have to be sold on putting the city’s support behind Celebrations of Bands in Carmel on Sept. 18 and 19.
“Part of our economic development strategy with the Palladium was to bring groups to Carmel for children and youth contests, much like the International Violin competition in Indianapolis,” Brainard said. “Every instrument in an orchestra or band has a national contest, so where else but in center of the country with a beautiful concert hall, safe, clear area with good air connections. This is part of the strategy. We would like to see many more groups and organizations see the Palladium and our neat downtown as their home base.”
The Sept. 18 performances will be in the downtown Arts & Design District. The Sept. 19 performances will held outside The Center for the Performing Arts and then the Grand Finale will be inside the Palladium.
“Plenty of people will be spending money in our hotels and at our restaurants, other businesses,” said Brainard, who plans to attend both days of concerts. “It’s good economic development for Carmel plus it provides a great event for people here to enjoy. Hopefully, it has a major impact with large groups coming. It really helps our small business people out.”
Brainard said it will be good for Carmel students to see the best in the country.
“They can compare how they are doing vis-a-vis the best performers their age,” he said.
Charles Conrad, who is coordinating the two-day event, said it was Brainard’s idea to put together a Middle School Honors Band because he wanted to get the students and schools involved.
Brainard, a 1972 Elkhart (Ind.) High School (now Elkhart Central) graduate, loves the idea of music being a full-time passion.
He said his father, Jack Brainard, who died in 2013 at age 85, directed New Horizon Seniors Band in his retirement.
“He would have people in their 70s start an instrument for the first time,” Brainard said. “Music is something you can do your entire life. You can build friendships. It’s a great thing for people to do.”
Jack directed Bristol High School band before it consolidated with Elkhart Schools. Jack then directed bands at two middle schools in the Elkhart school system.
Brainard recalled meeting Conrad, a 1972 Indianapolis Arlington High School graduate, at band camp when they were 10 or 11 years old. Conrad is the Indiana Wind Symphony conductor.
“(Celebration of Bands) was mostly my brainchild but I would say Jim Brainard had a lot to do with it,” Conrad said. “He’s obviously very committed to the arts. Particularly one of the facets of it we’re going to talk about music being a life-long pursuit whether you do it as a profession, whether you do it as hobby or whatever. We want to show extracurricular actives don’t have to be something that ends when you leave high school. At 77, you not going to play tackle football but you can play the saxophone. One of my all-time trumpet idols, Doc Severinsen just turned 88, and he’s still soloing with major symphonies around the country.”