The Modesto Band of Stanislaus County is one of the oldest, continuously performing bands in the U.S. In 1919, Professor W.W. Higgins gathered eleven boys together and formed The Modesto Boys' Band. However, he died quite suddenly two years later. The band fell under the baton of an internationally famous clarinetist, Frank Mancini who had purchased a farm on River Road in Modesto, California in 1915, then located permanently in Modesto in 1921. Under Proof Mancini's direction, the band increased in numbers and gained recognition throughout the state for its great musical ability. Five times in succession the band was awarded the state championship and for nine consecutive years it was the official band of the California State Fair in Sacramento.

Old Photo

Many changes have occurred since those original eleven young men gathered to play their first concert. In 1927 the original Modesto Boys' Band became the Stanislaus County Boys' Band. Gradually women were included and, finally in the early 1950's, the name made a final change to the one used today: The Modesto Band of Stanislaus County (affectionately known as Mo Band).

Early concerts were played in various parks - Fourth Street Park, Beard Brook Park, Court House Park and Graceada Park on Friday evenings (In the early 70's the concerts were moved to Thursday nights). Each week, a primitive lighting system of bare bulbs strung between trees provided illumination for the players who brought chairs from home, as did the audience. Finally, The Band Mothers (a group initiated by Proof''s wife) began raising funds for a permanent venue to showcase the music developed in the rehearsal hall previously built on land donated by the city of Modesto on Tuolumne Blvd in Modesto. On May 15th, 1949 3,200 people gathered in Graceada Park for the grand dedication ceremonies of the Mancini Music Bowl with its huge amphitheater, raised stage and large storage basement below. Today this wonderful band, composed of approximately 130 volunteer musicians, performs free concerts each summer on six consecutive Thursday evenings beginning in mid-June.

Three people who had great significance in the band's development have recently died ... Edith Wheeler played in Proof's Modesto high school band. After graduating from UC Berkeley, she returned to Modesto and was Proof's assistant for many years. She was drum major when the 95 member County Boys' Band participated in two important parades. One was "San Francisco's most elaborate electrical parade in the city's history to celebrate the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge". The second celebrated the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. "The line of march went out Van Ness Avenue, along the marina to the grandstand at Crissy field where a crowd of 25,000 cheering people waited".

Warren Barker died August 5, 2006. In 1984, MoBand's conductor commissioned a special piece for their European Tour called MoBand Opener. Today it heralds the beginning of each summer concert. Oliver Deatsch, one of the original eleven members of the Boys' Band and its long-time band manager, died at age 97 on January 23, 2007.

2008 Poster