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145 years … and the Brodbecks Band plays on

Brodbecks is one of those elusive areas in York County when you ask people how to get there, they wave their right arm and say, “It’s over thataway.”  “Thataway” is rural York County, located along Route 216 in Codorus Township.

And, in that York County way of pronouncing words, it is “Brode-becks” (rhymes with “Road-becks”).

If for no other reason, Brodbecks is known for the band that carries its name.

The Brodbecks Band was chartered in 1878 and now has about 50 members “on its rolls,” according to band director Karl Steger, with “23 to 30” taking part in performances.  And perform it does:  at more than 30 venues from Memorial Day to just past Labor Day at various locations around the area, Karl adds.

Liberty Garden 9/11 Memorial

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On Sunday, Sept. 11, the band presented a concert at a commemoration program at Liberty Garden at Kiwanis Lake Park.  The program began at 6 p.m.

Karl noted the 40- to 50-minute program that evening will be appropriate for the occasion.  In addition to the “Star Spangled Banner,” the concert included an arrangement of Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “a beautiful arrangement of ‘Amazing Grace,’” and Karl says, “possibly a medley of armed forces songs.”

The centerpiece of the concert was “Flight of Valor” by James Swearingen.  “The band is looking at this (concert) as a major event,” Karl said.  The composition is based on United Airlines Flight 93, which was crashed into a farm field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, before it could reach the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 11, 2001.  “It is a very descriptive piece of music relating to Flight 93,” Karl says.  Part of the work “doesn’t want (the audience) to feel comfortable with what (the composer) was writing.  It is a very discordant sound.”

The musicians in the Brodbecks Band are all “unpaid, volunteers,” Karl says.  The men and women in the band range in age from their mid-30s through 80.

Glen Rock Historic Preservation Society Concert

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On Saturday, Sept. 10, the band played at a Glen Rock Historic Preservation Society concert.  That performance took place in front of what was the home of Roland F. Seitz.  Seitz (1867-1946), a Glen Rock native, who wrote 46 marches and earned him the name “The Parade Music Prince.”

According to an unpublished manuscript (author unknown) in the files of the York County History Center Library and Archives, Samuel B. Brodbeck – of the family for which the community is named – conceived of the idea for a community band all those years ago.  Many years later, a photograph of the band appeared on the cover of “Family Week Magazine” on June 29, 1958.

The band has rehearsed at a number of locations from Brodbecks to Jefferson, but now meets at the Jefferson Sportsmen’s Association in Spring Grove.

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 Brodbecks Band 1889
(Green Ridge Orchestra and Cornet Band)

        Photo courtesy of Carolyn Woodring

Left to right front row: Conrad Albright, Milton Rohrbaugh Hamme, Emanuel German, Levi Henry Emig, Noah Emig, Rolandes Bortner and Adam Shauck.
Left to right back row: Eckert Bortner, Joathem Bortner, Dr. Edmund Daniel Bortner, Amos Valentine Albright, Jeremiah Holtzapple, Henry Edward Hetrick, Adam Warner and Ozias McClellan Bortner.

 

Five sons of Charles Garver Bortner and Lydia Miller Lau were members of the band in this picture (Dr. Edmund Daniel Bortner, Ozias McClellan Bortner, Rolandes Bortner, Eckert Bortner and Joatham Bortner).

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