Sun City Concert Band (Photo provided)

Sun City Concert Band 10th Anniversary Celebration

WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8

WHERE: Drendel Ballroom of the Prairie Lodge, 12880 Del Webb Blvd., Huntley

Tickets cost $10, and are available now at the member services desk in Prairie Lodge and at the door. Information: 815-515-7773.

The music of the Sun City Concert Band used to depend on who showed up.

When the band formed 10 years ago, those involved say, it was simply a group of 11 intrepid souls with instruments.

They played flutes, clarinets, trombones and a saxophone. There were no drums.

“It was a really eclectic little group,” said Rose Kundich, the band’s publicity chair and a clarinet player. 

“They had no music, nothing except their own personal instruments,” she said. “They didn’t really know what kind of band they were going to be until they sat down.”

A decade later, the band boasts at least 50 members and has gone from performing in a hallway near the fitness center in Sun City to putting on several concerts a year in Huntley, including an annual joint performance with the high school band.

The band is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a special concert at 2 p.m. Sept. 8 in the Drendel Ballroom of Prairie Lodge, 12880 Del Webb Blvd., Huntley. 

Coffee and cake will be served, just as it was when the band put on its first performance years ago.

“They served coffee and cake to get people to come,” Kundich said with a laugh. “We’re honoring that tradition.”

As part of the concert, the band’s eight remaining original members will perform a song as they did years ago. Halfway through the piece, the rest of the band will join in.

“Everybody will be able to see the vast difference, not that they haven’t over the years,” said Donna Bressler, the band’s conductor for the past eight years. Or in other words, she “plays the stick.”

“It’s monumental, absolutely monumental,” she said of the band’s transformation through the years. “It’s not only musically a fine band, but very professional in its presentation, and everybody is just a huge family, which is probably the most important thing.”

The band’s original conductor, Warren Goldsand, is expected to take part in the celebration. 

Open to any Sun City resident, the band plays a wide mix of music from classical to big band to gospel to patriotic to marches and other pieces.

“It takes a lot for us not to want to try to tackle it,” Kundich said. “We’re getting more and more difficult music as time goes on. We’re just trying to be better musicians and having a great time while we’re doing it.”

Many of those involved join after having not played for decades, members say.

Others have moved to Sun City specifically to be part of the band. 

An original and the band’s oldest member, 91-year-old Valere “Babe” VanDeVelde, hadn’t played since his days of service during World War II.

He plays any type of saxophone as well as the clarinet and now is playing the alto saxophone in the concert band. He plays in a couple of other area bands, as well as with a band in Florida, where he spends the winter months.

“I’ll keep playing as long as I can,” he said. “For me, that’s what I like. If I didn’t do that, I can’t lay out in the sun all day.”

Along with the music the band plays, what makes it special is the camaraderie, members say.

There’s no competition for first seats and solos, only support, they say.

“We have a whole lot of faith in each other,” Kundich said. “If somebody can come in and play only one note today, that’s fine. Maybe next week, you’ll be able to play two notes. ... 

“We’re an encouraging group. That’s a terrific way to enjoy music. And we think we do a darn good job at it.”