Monday, February 3, 2014

Public Memorials: Bowen R. Church 1928

Name: The Bandmaster
Date: August 26, 1928
Location: Roger Williams Park, Providence, Rhode Island
Artist: Aristide Berto Cianfarani
Why: The sculpture was funded by William G. James, a friend of Bowen Church.
Religious Significance: None
Smithsonian Listing

The bronze statue of Bowen R. Church, also known as the Bandmaster, is located near the north end of Roosevelt Pond in Roger Williams Park in Providence. A 7.5' by 33" by 30" bronze statue of the bandleader is standing on 2.5' diameter circular base which rests on a wedge shaped, taupe and white tiled, platform supported by a low rock wall. The sculpture was created by Aristide Berto Cianfarani and cast at the Gorham Manufacturing Company foundry. The sculpture was funded by William G. James, a friend of Bowen Church, and dedicated in Roger Williams Park on August 26, 1928.

Bowen R. Church is wearing a band uniform consisting of an ornate jacket and trousers. The jacket decorated vertically across the chest and with trim around the lower edges. The trousers have a broad strip running down the outside of the leg. The musician is standing upright, with his left foot in front of his right, while playing a coronet with his right hand on the keys.

Bowen R. Church was born in East Greenwich, RI on September 3, 1860. He began to study coronet under D. W. Reeves, director of the American Band of Providence, when he was nine years old. He gave his first recital when he was eleven and when he was eighteen, he became a featured soloist with the band.

In 1892, Church assumed leadership of the American Band of Providence during Reeves’ absence. In 1912, Church moved to Jersey City to direct the orchestra of the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. He was considered one of the best coronetists in the 19th century. He died in Jersey City, NJ on March 13, 1923.

Photos (c) 2014 Steve Ahlquist


  1. Bowen Church was one of the great cornet soloists, and it is nice to see this tribute in the city identified with him for so many years. So few of the golden-age brass players have been so honored!

  2. this man was a relative of mine, iv spent 30 years trying to find out his story, I read his bio today and found it odd, he died on march 13. why? my sister and I were born march 13, five years apart! wow