Even though Jerry Brubaker played French horn in the Navy Band for 30 years, he loves playing with the City of Fairfax Band. Ever since he retired from the Navy Band in 1998, he travels from his Largo, Md. home to rehearse with the City of Fairfax Band once a week.
"I enjoy it very much," Brubaker said, "enough to drive the 70 miles."
Brubaker is one of over 90 members of the City of Fairfax Concert Band. While many residents know of the concert band through the Independence Day celebrations and its annual Children's Concert, the City of Fairfax Band Association is a nonprofit comprised of the concert band and six smaller ensembles. All members are volunteer, and all concerts are free.
"We're all doing this because we like to play," said trumpet player and board secretary Jay Berkenbilt. "We're all making sacrifices to come here. This is a very close group."
The band formed in 1969, when former Fairfax High School band director Matt Hynes recruited musicians for a concert series on City Hall grounds. The group continued developing under the direction of Philip Fuller, another former Fairfax High School band director, and its more recent director, Dr. Thomas Hill.
Today's band is led by music director and conductor Robert Pouliot, with band members representing all ages and professions. The over 90 members hail from all over Northern Virginia, as well as Maryland and the District.
Berkenbilt is a software developer who lives in Herndon. His wife and father also play in the band. Brubaker is a composer/arranger with Warner Bros., and the band has played his arrangements of George Gershwin's "American in Paris" and music from the "Lord of the Rings" films.
Chantilly resident and trombone player Scott Fridy heard about the band through the Arts Council of Fairfax County, where he works. Like many other band members, he enjoys the community aspect of being in the band.
"I like the strong community spirit and the good musicianship. It's a rare combination," Fridy said.
Fellow band member Berkenbilt agreed.
'"It's probably the most important thing in my life right now. I really like music as a hobby," Berkenbilt said. "I really don't have enough good things to say about the group."