The Golden Gate Park Band (GGPB) of Local 6 (San Francisco, CA) kicked off the summer with an all-American repertoire of patriotic music for Memorial Day. The 30-member band, one of the last professional big city bands to present a full season of free outdoor concerts, regularly features ethnic artists, dancers, community groups, and guest soloists from throughout the Bay area. Performances include a range of music, from classic renditions, marches, and swing band sounds to show tunes and opera. The 2016 season continues through October 2.
The band, founded in 1882, is one of the few civic institutions in San Francisco to pre-date the 1906 earthquake. The other is the cable car, which was invented in 1873. Originally, the band was a support division of the California National Guard. Now it’s a Sunday afternoon mainstay at The Spreckles Temple of Music in Golden Gate Park on the music concourse.
Funded by grants and Friends of the Golden Gate Park Band, the band has a union contract and many of members also play professionally in other orchestras in the area. Conductor Michael L. Wirgler says, “We provide professional outdoor concerts for the citizens and visitors of San Francisco on Sundays for half of the year (26 concerts). The joy that I see on people’s faces and the number of small children who come and dance to our music is heartening and joyful, and makes it all worthwhile.”