With the help of the Shippensburg Town Band website, I was able to do some pulmonary research on the Town Band in anticipation for my trip to the Shippensburg Historical Society on Wednesday.
The Shippensburg Town Band was first organized in 1922 by a local resident named Salvado Callangelo. Before then Shippensburg had had other locally organized town bands specifically the Walter C. Snodgrass Cornet Concert Band, which preformed at local concerts and parades, and the Edward Shippen Military Band, which was formed in 1910 and preformed at various public functions and festivals.
The Town Band really got going in 1922 when a local delegation visited Clarence Smith, the director of Newville Town Band and invited him to come to Shippensburg and organize a town band of their own. The group started out with sixteen eager musicians, eventually going to thirty-three by the time of their first official performance in 1928. Smith was instrumental in this growth by organizing practices, raising money, and instituting a "beginner's program", that taught local residents interested in music how to play. The first performance consisted of three songs: a trombone / baritone duet known as "Lesser Trombones", "Brooke's Chicago Marine March", and the John Phillips Sousa standard "Stars and Stripes Forever". Smith would remain as the band's director till 1935 when he was replaced by professional musician and future co-founder of Harrisburg Symphony, Professor Ralph Schecter of Dickenson College. Schecter's first performance as conductor for the Town Band came in 1937 when the Band hosted legendary jazz musician and bandleader Glenn Miller and preformed his song, "On the Road to Mandalay". Schecter also started a lengthy connection with the fledgling music department at the Shippensburg State Teachers College, when they borrowed a tympani from their collection for use in a tribute concert to Irish-born American composer and cellist Victor Herbert, whom Schecter had meet. In 1940, the Town Band and the College would come together again to organize a benefit concert for the repair and lighting of the clock tower over the Shippensburg Memorial Lutheran Church. The concert was organized by Professor George E. Mark of the College. The band also hosted several fundraising concerts, in conjunction with the Shippensburg chapter of the American Legion, to buy blue and gold uniforms for their performances at concerts and parades.
In 1961, Schecter stepped down as director for the Shippensburg Town Band and local Kenneth Slater stepped in, serving for four years until one of the Band's own Donald Ballinger stepped forward to fill the leadership role. An accomplished trombonist, Ballinger had graduated with a Bachelor's degree in music from Gettysburg College and had studied music at the distinguished Peabody Conservatory of Music. He had also played in the Gettysburg Symphony and served as the director of the Gettysburg Blue and Gray Band from 1955-57. Ballinger would continue to serve as director and conductor for the Shippensburg Town Band from 1966 till his retirement in 2004.
The Shippensburg "Blaskapelle" German Band was formed of from volunteer musicians in 1985 in the hopes of forming a traditional German / Austrian Blasmusik band. They preform traditional German music (drinking songs, polkas, and waltzs) from the regions of Engerland, Bohemia, Bavaris, and Tirol.