"Don't you hear that?!!"
- R. Paul Barber
A Brief History of the FCB
As told by co-founder R. Paul Barber
"We received an adult-ed. brochure in mid-September of our first year teaching in Farmington, 1966. As we looked through the brochure we noticed there was nothing available for musicians. We made an appointment to speak to Mr. Richard Tyler, Director of Adult Education, and shared our observations. He basically said no one had asked about a group for adult musicians before - we said "we just did" and he said "then let's start right away." We got an article in the newspaper and began the "class" called the Farmington Civic Band in October. We began rehearsing at Farmington High School on Tuesday evenings. We kept the music and some small instruments in the trunk of our car. We had only six people at our first rehearsal and performed our first concert as part of a Kiwanis program at North Farmington High School with only thirteen musicians. Our first "FCB" concert was held on the lawn in front of Farmington High School in June with 22 musicians.
Beginning in the fall of 1967, we moved our rehearsals to Farmington Junior High since that became my band room for the next three years. With the enthusiastic support of one of my band student's father, Bill Conroy, we began to grow. We formed a Board of Directors which included some prominent Farmington residents. We changed our name to the Farmington Community Concert Band and continued to grow. Through Bill Conroy's involvement in the Exchange Club, we received band uniforms. The band members included several junior and senior high students as well as adults during these years.
In 1970, I became the instrumental music director at the newly opened Harrison High School and so we moved the community band rehearsals to Harrison. As we grew in membership and competence, the variety and frequency of our performances increased, as did the diversity of our offerings. We added a dance/jazz band, dixieland band, clarinet choir, low brass and flute ensembles. The band's schedule included summer performances as well during the school year. With the help of cosigners, we purchased our own new 40 ft. Wenger Showmobile which allowed us to plan and present a complete summer music series. We expanded our performances to include visits to Mackinac Island, Brighton, Twelve Oaks Mall, Flint, and South Lyon. We organized and co-sponsored the Festival of Community Bands for eighteen years at Twelve Oaks Mall featuring announcer Carl Grapentine, voice of the University of Michigan Marching Band. Special programs for seniors and the handicapped as well as the Halloween Spooktacular for young people were well received. Other special appearances included two Detroit Tiger baseball games. We had several guest soloists and conductors performing with the community band which included: Donald Sinta, saxophone; John Mohler, clarinet; Armando Ghitalla, trumpet; conductors William D. Revelli, Harold Arnoldi, John Whitwell, and John Williamson. We performed for such important community events as the founding and 25th anniversary of the city of Farmington Hills, the 125th anniversary for the city of Farmington and the Farmington Founders Festival. We decided to broaden our offerings of entertainment to include a Valentine Dinner Dance at Glen Oaks Country Club featuring the FCB jazz/dance band.
In the mid-1980s, rehearsals moved to Monday evenings to accommodate my need to attend school board meetings on Tuesday evenings. Over the years, member demographics began to change making the band more and more adult oriented with fewer students taking part. The FCB Board of Directors organized scholarships for students and had significant involvement and sponsorship of the annual Festival of the Arts program."
Paul and Fern Barber retired from teaching and active participation in the Farmington area cultural arts in June, 2003, and moved in to their retirement dream home in Flat Rock, North Carolina. They continued to stay active in local arts programs including a community concert band, but their hearts always stayed close to the FCB. They returned to participate in the band's 40th Anniversary Reunion Concert in April, 2006. Paul passed away later that year and Fern continued on her personal musical journey. In 2013, she moved back to Michigan to resume a very active role with the FCB, now serving as Vice President of Operations. The Farmington Community Band is grateful for the hard work that the Barbers invested in promoting the arts and music education for life.