In the 1850s, most New Hampshire mill towns boasted a brass band, and the town of Hopkinton (with mills in its bustling Contoocook village) was no exception. The Hopkinton Cornet Band originated at that time, made up only of brass instruments, and evolved into the Hopkinton Town Band with the addition of woodwinds and percussion. In that form, Hopkinton’s band survived until it was disbanded during World War II, leaving a Sousaphone, cymbals, and a bank account. In 1965, Hopkinton High School had an orchestra but no marching band, and an annual Little League parade, that had to settle for music provided by a car-mounted record player. By word of mouth, Little League mothers Arlene Conaway (trombone) and June Merrill (bass drum) mustered a band for the parade, and 10 trumpets, 10 drums, and various other instruments, including present co-director Luciele Gaskill (tenor saxophone), turned out. That impromptu group was quickly invited to march on Memorial Day and at the Hopkinton State Fair, and the Hopkinton Town Band was reborn.
New Co-Directors Arlene Conaway and Luciele Gaskill located the old town band’s Sousaphone miles away in Rindge, and from that second beginning the Hopkinton Town Band has grown into a successful community concert band. The band’s volunteer, no-audition-needed membership has waxed and waned in the past 40 plus years, growing from eight players all the way up to 50. Current band membership, under the baton of Jim Wojewoda, stands at about 28 regular players, who range from college students to octogenarians united by a passion for musical performance. From its home at Contoocook’s Jane Lewellen Bandstand, the Hopkinton Town Band maintains a busy concert schedule from Memorial Day through the winter holidays.