Pride in Every Note
Alan Day and Zachary Parker began discussing the formation of a band during the summer of 2001. Originally planned as a senior Drum & Bugle Corp, the founders decided to shift focus into becoming a performing musical organization focused on Kansas City’s LGBTA (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transsexual, and Ally) community. Mid America Freedom Band held its first rehearsal on April 18, 2002 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center in Kansas City with four musicians. That same year MAFB also became proud full member of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association an organization complied of now over 35 similar bands across the United States, Canada, and Europe.
On November 15, 2003 MAFB, under the leadership of Zachary Parker, gave its first concert, “Journeys” with only 13 local musicians aided by St. Louis’ Band Together. Mid America Freedom Band in 2004 became incorporated as a non-profit entity and a board of directors took office in 2005. In 2006 the band added an annual holiday concert to the fall and spring season, as well as many other outreach events. The band that once numbered barely a half dozen now has approximately 70+ members to include a volunteer rest section, concert band, marching band, and jazz band.
MAFB has produced 33 formal concerts most of them at no charge to the general community. The group has performed in outreach events in churches, nursing homes, parks, prides and parades in front of over 35,000 people this last year alone. The organization believes producing high-quality performances that are entertaining and accessible to all walks of life, while creating a safe, fun, and supportive atmosphere for its members and patrons.
Mid America Freedom Band provides opportunities for instrumental music lovers to share their passion of performance with the diverse community of Kansas City. It strives for excellence while promoting equality, fostering education and celebrating the joy shared through music.
Providing opportunities for instrumental music lovers
MAFB consists of three component ensembles: a concert band, a marching/pep band with flag corps, and a jazz band (Mighty Mo Combo). Each group addresses different needs of its constituent members and the community at large. The active performing membership is over 70 individuals as well as a volunteer/inactive base of 30 members. Auditions are not required of members but the ability to read music is requested for participants.
Sharing passion of performance with the diverse community of Kansas City
MAFB proudly represents the LGBTQIA community, performing at a wide variety of venues across the Kansas City metropolitan area including area churches, local parades, street festivals, and concert halls. In 2012–13, MAFB performed at Unity Temple, Spirit of Hope MCC, Brookside St. Patrick’s Day Parade, All Soul’s Unitarian Church, Kansas City AIDS Walk, Troost Festival, and has been invited to play at both Kansas City and St. Joseph Pride events. Liberty Memorial has requested our musicians perform for its Veterans’ Day Ceremony in November. The season for 2015–16 currently has a 3-concert season of the concert band with 5 performances, 4 jazz band appearances, and 2 parades scheduled with more to be added to the jazz band and parade calendar.
Striving for excellence
MAFB empowers its members by giving musicians a greater sense of confidence and music ability. The artistic staff pushes members and audiences musically by programming attainable, yet challenging, music. This past year, the ensemble successfully performed its first advanced-rated piece: William Schaefer’s note-for-note transcription of Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. Next season, two advanced-rated pieces are programmed: Alan Hovhaness’s Fantasy on Japanese Woodprints and Paul Creston’s Kalevala. In April 2013, the ensemble gave its first world premiere with Lee Hartman’s Sapphire (which the group successfully commissioned through donations and other grants) and three other world premieres by local composers are programmed for next season.
Membership in MAFB is open to all ages 18 and older. Though the organization’s focus is serving the needs of the LGBT community, its membership is diverse as are its audiences. Current members have left their previous groups as they felt as if they were forced back into the closet and unable to be proud of themselves and true to their identity. Straight-allied membership continues to grow each concert and they are some of the fiercest defenders of equality. Dues are kept low and need-based scholarships are available so that no one is turned away.
Since MAFB is open to all levels, much rehearsal time is dedicated to skill building and fundamentals. Skilled musicians are spread throughout the sections to assist newer players, and section leaders provide aid in negotiating harder passages. This year, UMKC Faculty and world-renowned composer Chen Yi coached the concert band on her composition “Spring Festival.” Audiences are treated to an array of classical, light, and popular selections played in styles appropriate to the piece.
Celebrating the joy shared through music
Many members joined MAFB as a place to feel welcome and valued. Everyone is expected to contribute what they can musically and the benefits of a supportive community of those joined in a common goal uplift all.