Sousa Bandshell in Port opens 50th season

Douglas Paulsen

The John Philip Sousa Memorial Band Shell marked the opening its 50th free summer concert season last Sunday on the shore of Manhasset Bay in Sunset Park, next to the Town Dock. 

The first concert of the season opened with a performance by the Daly/Guggenheim Combined Elementary School Band, conducted by Aaron Prindle, followed immediately by a program by the Paul D, Schreiber High School Band, under director Mark Brenner and conductor Rudy Johnson.

The annual “Summer Sounds and Sousa” season of concerts continues every Friday evening throughout the summer at 8:15 p.m., beginning on June 17 with a performance by the Freeport Community Band. The ensemble has been playing since 2010 and goes back even further, as the successor of the Freeport Firemen’s Band that began playing in 1921.

The band shell’s golden season then follows with:

June 24 – America’s timeless standards as performed by the Swingtime Big Band

July 1, 8, 16 and 22 – Port Washington Community Concert Band

July 29 – the North Shore Pops

Aug. 5 – the New York Exceptions “Doo Wop Band”

Aug. 12 – European concert band sounds of the Czech Republic by the Pilsner Brass Band

Aug. 19, – Long Island Banjo Society

Aug. 26 – Sousa Night with the Band of Long Island.

Founded in 1931, this will be the 86th summer concert series by the Port Washington Community Concert Band. Almost all of the performers in this band are professional musicians, band directors, music educators and alumni from other professional, college and high school bands, including Paul D. Schreiber High School Band. 

Some of its members have been performing with this band for decades. Although their most important mission is to greatly enrich our school district’s excellent music education program by giving talented current Schreiber musicians an opportunity to play alongside accomplished adult musicians, their efforts, year after year, have seamlessly combined to produce a remarkably polished, versatile and proficient concert band.

The Band Shell pays tribute to the “March King” John Philip Sousa, who moved his family to proudly reside in a spacious home in Sands Point from 1915 until his death in 1932. Sousa noted in a 1921 letter that “the North Shore is so near Paradise that I have no idea of ever renting or selling my place,’’ his beloved Mediterranean-style home, “Wildbank,” overlooking Hempstead Harbor. 

Port has returned that love by planting a commemorative White Oak tree on Memorial Day, 1932 at the Main Street School, now “the Landmark,” across the street from the Port Washington Public library. When a new school was built in 1958, it was dedicated as the John Philip Sousa Junior High School and is now the John Philip Sousa Elementary School. Sousa Drive was dedicated in Sands Point in 1971. 

About the author

Douglas Paulsen

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