December 8, 2015

Christmas concerts announced

The Greater Des Moines Community Band will get into the holiday spirit with three concerts starting Saturday.

The band will play in the food court at the Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines at 1 p.m. Saturday. Band members should bring their own chairs and stands and wear casual Christmas attire.

On Sunday, the band will play at 2 p.m. at the First Christian Church, 25th and University, Des Moines. Members should bring their own stands and wear dress-up/church-type clothing. A group photo of the band will be taken before the concert.

The band's third winter concert will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at the Woodlands Creek Active Retirement Community, 12605 Woodlands Parkway, Clive. Members should wear Christmas casual attire and bring chairs and stands.

The program will include "Jingle Bells," "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," "Hallelujah Chorus," "Pat a Pan," "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow," "I Saw Three Ships," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," "Feliz Navidad," "First Noel," "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and "Sleigh Ride."

In addition, a low brass ensemble will perform "Swingin' Ukranian Christmas." A sax ensemble with a flute will perform "Baby It's Cold Outside."

The band is directed by David Liljedahl. Christa Miller is assistant director.

November 16, 2015

Iowa's greatest musicians

Who are Iowa's greatest musicians of all time?

For starters, I can come up with eight at this point.

In no particular order, they include Meredith Wilson, Glenn Miller, Karl King, Leon "Bix"Beiderbecke, the Everly Brothers, Simon Estes and Andy Williams.

I must confess, this blogger was born in Clarinda in southwest Iowa - the town that claims Miller as its own and even has an annual festival and museum named after him. In fact, Miller's boyhood home in Clarinda was on the same block as my maternal grandparents' house. So I spent lots of time passing Miller's house on my way to the Clarinda square when I visited my grandparents.

Last year, I attended my first Glenn Miller Festival and heard the official Glenn Miller Band for the first time.

If you can think of any other musicians to add to the list, let me know.

November 13, 2015

The rest of the story

Did you know that Merle Hay Mall was named after the first Iowan killed in World War I?

Or that the site of the mall originally served as the home of St. Gabriel's Monastery?

The Greater Des Moines Community Band will present its first fall concert of 2015 in the food court of the mall at 1 p.m. Saturday.
It was the largest mall in Iowa in terms of gross leasable space until the Jordan Creek Town Center opened in 2004 in neighboring West Des Moines, according to Wikipedia. The mall encompasses Des Moines as well as Urbandale.

The site was the home of St. Gabriel's Monastery from 1921 until it was demolished in 1958. In 1956, the monks who lived there sold the site to Chicago-based developers Joseph Abbell and Bernard Greenbaum.

Originally called Merle Hay Plaza, the shopping site was planned as a strip mall before it was redesigned as an open-air plaza, according to Wikipedia.

Merle Hay Plaza opened on Aug. 17, 1959, with 31 stores, including Younkers. Later that year, Sears moved from downtown Des Moines to the plaza. A movie theater and six-story office building were added in 1965.

Merle Hay Plaza was enclosed and became Merle Hay Mall in 1972. Two years later, the mall expanded westward, more than doubling the size of the mall. By 2000, the mall was drawing 35,000 shoppers a day.

In 2000, Famous-Barr opened a new store in space formerly occupied by Montgomery Ward, which had closed in early 1999. The rest of the mall underwent a $20 million renovation.

As of 2009, the mall was anchored by Sears, Kohl's, Younkers and Target with about 95 in-line tenants, a food court and the largest movie screen in Des Moines.

The upper level became a Fix Brewhouse movie theater in mid-2014.

November 11, 2015

Playlist announced

The playlist for this weekend's Greater Des Moines Community Band concerts has been announced.

In order, the musical numbers are "Rolling Thunder," "When We Are in Deepest Need," "On the Boulevard," "Irish Tune from County Derry," "Cajun Folk Songs," "Denbridge Way," "Symphonic Chorale" and "Suite of Old American Dances (Movements 1-3)."

Band members should report at 12:30 p.m. Saturday for the concert at 1 p.m. in the Merle Hay Mall food court. The report time is 1:30 p.m. Sunday for the 2 p.m. concert at the First Christian Church in Des Moines.

The band will practice as usual at 6:30 p.m. Monday night.

November 10, 2015

December, spring 2016 concert dates set

The Greater Des Moines Community Band has announced its concert dates for the Christmas season and the spring of 2016.

The Christmas concerts are 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at Merle Hay Mall and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, at the First Christian Church, both in Des Moines. The band also will play at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14, at the Woodland Creek Retirement Center in Clive.

The spring 2016 concert dates are Saturday, April 2, at the Merle Hay Mall and Sunday, April 3, at the First Christian Church.

November 9, 2015

Trivia quiz

The Greater Des Moines Community Band is playing Saturday at the Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines.

Who was Merle Hay and what formerly was located at the mall's site. I'll have the answers later this week.

Fall concerts coming up this weekend

Don't forget this weekend's fall concerts at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Merle Hay Mall and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the First Christian Church in Des Moines.

Band members should arrive in the food court area of the mall by 12:30 p.m. Saturday and at the church by 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Bring chairs and music stands to Saturday's concert. No chairs are needed for Sunday's concert - just stands.