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The World is Better with Music

The World is Better with Music

  • This story originally appeared in the November 2023 Impact issue of COMO Magazine.
Flutes and low brass at Fayette Festival of the Arts

In the Columbia Community Band, ‘Those Who Come to Play, Love to Play.’

The Columbia Community Band is exactly what its name declares: the band is based in Columbia with musicians living in the community. The band’s mission is a labor of personal passion and collective creative energy, connecting with and finding places for musicians who love to play, and they pride themselves on finding places for musicians who love to play — and for those who love to listen to their music.

Music director Denis Swope assumed his current role in 2020, but he’s been involved with the CCB for many years as a musician, as both a trumpet player and a percussionist.

“My high school band director, John Patterson, at the time, was music director, so I had a relationship with the band,” Swope says, explaining that his connection to and fondness for the band has grown throughout his tenure. 

Terry Fetterly, CCB’s president, has been with the band since its inception. She plays the clarinet, and her husband, Gordon, plays the trumpet. They met when they were with the Mizzou marching band. A few years after getting married, the two rarely played until they were dining at a local restaurant and saw Terry’s former high school band director, John Patterson at another table. Patterson invited them to join his conversation with Butch Antal, who was founding the CCB.

“They said, ‘You guys should join,’ and I thought, ‘That would be wonderful.’” 

And it has been wonderful, she says. The band began as an adult education class through Columbia Public Schools in 1981, and its members started by taking a class and performing at rehearsals and recitals. Ultimately, the CCB grew into its own independent organization, growing from an initial roster of about 20 volunteer musicians to a group of around 80 today.

Performing The Snowman movie score
Performing The Snowman at Hickman High School

The Fetterlys have watched the band grow, not just in number but in experience and perspective. Terry Fetterly says the oldest member of the band sits beside her in her section, at age 88 — “God, I hope I’m still playing at that age,” Fetterly says — but that there are also many young musicians. Mizzou grads often bring their own flavor to the band. 

Fetterly attributes the band’s growth to its passionate directors and to the musicians who have helped the band grow, “because people love to play music,” she says. “I think it’s just because people who come to play, love to play.”

Both Swope and Fetterly say that the dynamic of ages and backgrounds is an integral part of their sound.

“It’s such a special group, and always has been,” Swope says. In his current position, he likes to choose performance pieces surrounding a theme. “Sometimes I like to find pieces that will fit well with the ensemble, and we try to do traditional things, like marches and overtures, but I also like to throw in some new stuff, for both our band members and our audiences, so that everyone gets something new out of what they hear.”

The CCB performs a minimum of three indoor concerts every year, and it’s also a staple at many local events. The concerts are always free and open to the public. The next performance is at 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 3, in the Hickman High School auditorium. The CCB also offers a scholarship for young musicians in honor of former director Keith House. The scholarship is given annually to a mid-Missouri high school student who intends to pursue participation in a band-related ensemble at the college level.

To get involved, you can apply to join the band, donate to its cause, and learn more about what the CCB does via its website. 

The Columbia Community Band

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