Photo by Heather Dunn
The Mat-Su Community Band was formed in 1984 by Hank Hartman. The band started with about a dozen members and met at Wasilla Grade School, which is now Wasilla City Hall. Vance Barret, a retired music educator, was the first conductor. The band met and practiced for an hour and went outside and marched for an hour. They were the only community marching band in Alaska. That lasted for about three years, marching in all of the parades in the valley.
One day an 80 year old trombone player said his knees couldn’t take the pounding anymore so the band voted they should just be a concert band. The vote was unanimous. Neil Long, a local music teacher, became the next conductor. Neil Long passed the baton on to Phil Munger in 1995. After over ten years as director of the Mat-Su College Community Band, Phil Munger submitted his resignation. Neil Long took over the band the following year and directed for one more year.
Gleo Huyck took up the baton of the Community Band in the Fall of 2008, completely reorganized the structure of the band and it is now known as the Mat-Su Concert Band, a 501(c)3 organization not affiliated with the local college as in previous years.