Marion’s Music Man

            Is that 76 trombones I’m hearing? No, it is just Phil Sanborn’s “pop-up” concert for four trombones in front of the Marion Music Hall. Sanborn, a trombonist, and the Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Tri-County Symphonic Band will always manage to find a way to keep the music going for music lovers in this area who have come to love the band over the past half-century of its existence. While people loved the four trombones “pop up” concert on August 6, Sanborn has come up with other musical delights for those who live in the Southcoast area. On August 17, he gifted the people who live in Rochester’s 55+ community, The Pines at Hathaway Pond, with an outdoor concert by a brass quartet consisting of two trumpets and two trombones. The musicians were all members of the Tri-County Symphonic Band and included Sanborn on trombone. On September 4, he brought a string quartet consisting of four siblings to Marion. The sisters played a free “pop-up” concert in front of the Marion Music Hall. 

            Phil and the Board of the Tri-County Music Association will continue to provide scholarships to college-level music students and summer study grants to high school students from our area. While live concerts by the band are temporarily on hold, virtual concerts of the band will be available on Sunday, October 25 at 3:00 pm, and on Sunday, December 13 at 1:30 pm. Information about these concerts will be available on the band’s website (

            In 2013, Sanborn was named Marion Man of the Year by the New Bedford Standard-Times for his contributions to the community through his music. Having earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Michigan, he served as the Director of Music at Tabor Academy from 1985 until his retirement this past year. In this role, he provided music instruction to many local young people as well as students from throughout the country and internationally. Recently, Phil gave freely of his time to the project to improve the acoustics of the Marion Music Hall.

            In addition to serving as the Music Director of the Tri-County Symphonic Band for 14 seasons, Sanborn has played in classical as well as jazz ensembles throughout the Southcoast area and internationally. His skills as a trombonist have led to performances with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, and the Buzzards Bay Musicfest Orchestra. He also leads Buzzards Bay Musicfest’s Swing Band for the annual jazz night concert. Phil has played with the Cab Calloway Orchestra and plays regularly with the Southcoast Jazz Orchestra as well as other groups. He traveled internationally to play in the famed Montreux Jazz Festival.

            As might be expected in a person whose life revolves around music, Sanborn’s marriage is a musical one. He met his wife Karen, a baritone saxophonist and bass clarinetist at a rehearsal of the Tri-County Symphonic Band years ago when the band was under the direction of John Pandolfi. The two have been inseparable ever since and Karen often joins him in both classical and jazz performances.

            This Marion “Music Man” really doesn’t need those 75 other trombonists in order to make music that has delighted Southcoast music lovers. All that he really needs is one trombone, a baton, a symphonic or jazz ensemble, and his considerable musical skills and deep knowledge of the art form to make great music happen.

Leave A Comment...