The History of
The Lyric Band
The Lyric Band of Hanover, PA Inc. was organized in 1932 and held its first meeting and rehearsal, November 15, 1932, with 16 musicians in attendance. The Band’s first headquarters was in the Parkville Fire Co. hall, 889 Baltimore St. in Hanover.
Harry W. Swartzbaugh was appointed first conductor.
In 1933, headquarters was moved to the former Melhorn building, now the site of the present Wachovia bank. In the winter of 1936, The Lyric Band began weekly radio concert broadcasts on WORK-AM and WHVR-AM. These broadcasts continued until 1964. In May of 1938, The Band purchased its present headquarters, the former YMCA building at 20 York Street.
After The Lyric Band purchased the old YMCA building on York Street, they opened a very successful social club. It held weekly music events, served meals and brought in guest artists to perform. It was one of the biggest nightspots in Hanover in the 1940s and 1950s. The building also served as the office of the American Federation of Musicians Union until the 1980s.
On April 19, 1939, The Band was incorporated by the Courts of York County as a non-profit organization to be “A medium of instruction for the purpose of bettering all who are connected with it, both individually and collectively; and, further to promote a musically-minded spirit in the community.”
In 1955, Harry Swartzbaugh was replaced by his son, Harry E. In 1962, the Hanover High School Band Director, Bruce Wiser, was appointed conductor. In 1983, Bruce Wiser left the Hanover Area for other employment. Kevin Baum, Jeff Baker, and James Hughes shared conducting duties, along with many guest conductors. In 1990, Edward Gobrecht, Jr., a former member of the band and Professor of Music at Ithaca College, was appointed director of The Band. Dr. Galen Leitzel was appointed Music Director in May of 2001 and Edward Gobrecht was awarded the title of Director Emeritus. After 20 years in the position, Dr. Leitzel announced his retirement as Music Director in 2021. In August 2021,
Dr. Linda Kirkpatrick was elected Music Director.
In the early years of The Band, concerts were played at the Eichelberger High School, the Park Theater (formerly the Hanover Opera House) and the State Theatre of Frederick Street. Since 1970, Sunday evening concerts have been presented every summer at Codorus State Park.
In 2002, The Band revived the tradition of a Spring Concert for The Lyric Band. The Band returned to the Eichelberger stage to celebrate its 70th Anniversary. Col. Bryan Shelburne, former conductor of the U.S. Army Band (Pershings Own), served as Guest conductor. The Band returned once again to the Eichelberger to celebrate their 75th Anniversary. From 2007 until 2010, The Band revived exchange concerts in the summer with the New Holland Band.
The Band participates in all the of the community Memorial Day ceremonies and has also performed in: Tower City, PA; Bryn Mawr, PA; New Holland, PA; Washington, DC and Stanton, West Virginia.
Guest Artists who have
performed with The Lyric Band
include: Oscar Short, cornetist
with the US Navy Band; William Cameron, Harpist with the US Navy Band;
Donald McCatheren, clarinetist and former Professor of Music at Duquesne University; James Burke, former cornetist with the Band of America; Emerson Head, trumpeter and former Professor of Music the University of Maryland; Scott Nelson, trumpeter and Professor of Music at Shenandoah Conservatory, William Dupree, tenor vocalist with the US Air Force Band, and; Dr. Michael Burritt, percussionist and Professor of Music at Northwestern University.