BACB History

WELCOME to the Bay Area Concert Band’s (BACB) history! It contains information regarding those who served as Conductors, Featured Members, and concert Programs. There are also pictures.

The story of how the BACB came to be was related by its first conductor and founding member, Robert “Bob” Gillett.


Robert “Bob” Gillett was the director of the Bay Area Concert Band (BACB) from 1976-1998. He shared the history of how the BACB got its start. The following story explains how various events and people came together and played a part that led to the formation of the band.

Norma Lyon program front

In 1976, the Coos Bay – North Bend area had a resident who was a very gifted pianist, composer, and arranger. Her name was Norma Lyon. Norma wanted to give a public performance of her music and needed some help to make that happen. The local community college, Southwestern, no longer had an instrumental concert band and she would need one. Norma knew the greater bay area had a wealth of some top quality, musical talent that lived in a geographical area that stretched from Florence to Port Orford and as far east as Myrtle Point.

Some of these musicians were in the college’s community band program while it was still functioning. Some were in various ensembles that performed in and around the area. Some had recently retired or moved to the area. And there were those who were waiting for something to capture their interest so they could perform once again.

Norma looked at the possibilities and set to work. She approached the Coos Bay Lions about sponsoring a concert. The Club was active and willing to support community events. It was the year of the Bicentennial, and one can well imagine that Norma used that historic landmark as a reason for why the Lions Club would want to support any needed capital to finance a concert.

Norma had a connection to some string musicians in the area that once played with the Southwestern Oregon Community College. She correctly calculated she could persuade them to come play some of her original scores. But she needed help with getting a brass and woodwind concert band together.

So a few of the members from the Lions Club contacted Bob Gillett who was the band director at Marshfield High School and asked him if he would help find musicians and put something together. Bob agreed and then worked with Norma to advise her how to score arrangements for a concert band. Writing manuscript for that kind of instrumentation was new to her.

Bob also rounded up enough musicians to put together a 31 member Coos Bicentennial Concert Band and led them through a grand total of two rehearsals prior to the concert. On February 5, 1976, he served as director as the band performed a with Norma on piano. It should be pointed out that this composition was the only piece in the concert that the Band performed. The Coos Bay Lions Club sponsored the event.

During the brief time the band was assembled, Don Loftus, a local musician and a bit of an all-round musical troubadour, asked the members in the band if they would like to play another piece just for the fun of it. He had borrowed some concert band arrangements from Marshfield High school and brought them along. They did. Don pulled out a couple more scores and the band played. When they had gone through everything Don had brought, he asked if the Band would like to continue on, to which they enthusiastically consented and committed to do. And so the details for establishing the Bay Area Concert Band were finally settled.

BACB 2022

BACB 2022, photo by Karen Denman

BACB 2019

BACB 2019, photo by Sam Scott

BACB 2018

BACB 2018, photo courtesy The World Newspaper

BACB 2017

BACB 2017, photographer unknown

BACB 2015

BACB circa 2015, photographer unknown

BACB 2001

BACB 2001, John Myers Conductor, photographer unknown

BACB 1990

BACB circa 1990, Robert Gillett Conductor, photographer unknown

BACB 1988

BACB 1988, Robert Gillett Conductor, photographer unknown

Pictured below is the backside of the program: An Evening With Norma Lyon - Composer Pianist. It was held in the Marshfield High School Auditorium on Thursday, February 5, 1976, at 8:00 pm. Robert Gillett was the director of the bicentennial band. The Coos Bay Lions Club Sponsored the program

Norma Lyon program back 1 Norma Lyon program back 2