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How It Began

After returning from military service in World War II, Cedar Rapids school instrumental music teacher Roland Moehlmann decided the city needed a band to play free public concerts. He organized a band using veteran musicians from the VFW Band along with students from the city schools into what was called “city band”.

During the years 1948 to 1950 the city band played four concerts on Sunday evenings on May’s Island. The tradition of Sunday night concerts in the summer went back to the 1890s. Bands such as Kouba’s National played at Riverside Park, while the Forester’s Band which featured the musicians dressed as trees, played in the bandstand at Bever Park.

The city band concerts were paid for by the local musicians union performance trust fund. A small group of band concert backers campaigned for the passage of a band tax to secure funding for a full season of summer concerts. Our citizens voted in the new band tax, and city band was re-organized, enlarged, and re-named “The Cedar Rapids Municipal Band”. A Band Commission of Chairman Joseph Kitchen, Dr. Suchomel , Dr. Katzoff, Robert Smythe, and Joe Stoddard was formed to organize and run the band. In June of 1951, the new Cedar Rapids Municipal Band played its first concert on a cement slab in Bever Park. Over the next 50 years it would perform nearly 1,000 concerts.