The Stratford Concert Band was born in 1907 when James Malone, a noted Stratford conductor, founded the GTR Employees Band. When the GTR was absorbed by the CNR in 1923, the musicians became the CNR Employees' Band. In the early ’60s, after more than 50 years affiliated with the GTR and CN, the band began an association with the Royal Canadian Legion, taking the name of the Stratford Royal Canadian Legion Concert Band.
Since 1992, the Stratford Concert Band has been an independent group, and in 1994 it became a registered charitable organization.
The band has built a reputation as one of the best community bands in Ontario. At the 2005 Stratford Kiwanis Festival of the Performing Arts, where it took first place in both the march and concert competitions, the judge called the group “one of the finest bands I’ve ever had the privilege of adjudicating.”
The band has a loyal following in Stratford, regularly drawing several hundred listeners to its weekly summer concerts in Upper Queen’s Park, held every Wednesday in July and August at 7:00 p.m. The band also presents several formal concerts each year, and performs frequently at civic functions in Stratford and the surrounding area. The band’s range of styles is extremely wide. Its concerts feature standards of the concert-band repertory, contemporary works for wind ensemble, arrangements of classic symphonic pieces, popular music, jazz, settings of hymns and other religious works, and, of course, marches. The band’s outdoor summer concerts include “halftime” performances by smaller ensembles drawn from the band’s membership, and it frequently invites guest groups or soloists to perform at formal concerts.