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Community Band Concerts Need a Little Help From Their Friends

Since its inception 60 years ago, the Oyster Bay Community Band has provided free summer evening lawn concerts at Oyster Bay High School during the month of July. This year, however, the concert series may have to be cancelled or abbreviated. Due to budgetary constraints, the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District is no longer able to sponsor the concerts, so the band is reaching out to community organizations and individuals to help keep the music playing.

The Oyster Bay Community Band provides the opportunity for high school students, college students, music teachers and other adults to gather together and play music in the summer time. Its bucolic strains echo memories of our village’s rich history. Its repertoire includes many types of popular and light classical music, including ballads, marches, jazz, folk, rock, Broadway, and film music. It also performs songs and marches dedicated to our hometown hero, Theodore Roosevelt.

Oyster Bay’s band tradition goes back to 1850, when the Oyster Bay Band played at “Academy Yard” (in front of the current parsonage of Christ Church) for Independence Day exercises. From 1898 until his death in 1919, the Oyster Bay Band proudly saluted Theodore Roosevelt in all of his accomplishments. From the 1920s to the 1940s, the Quentin Roosevelt Post of the American Legion sponsored an award winning town band. In 1950, Donald Luckenbill created the Oyster Bay Community Band, and inaugurated summer evening concerts on the lawn of Oyster Bay High School. He conducted the band until his retirement in 1980. From 1980 until 2002, the band was led by Michael Iannicello. The current conductor of the band, and arranger of several of its selections, is Stephen Walker.

Interested individuals and organizations who are in a position to help sponsor the concerts should contact Daniel Friedman, supervisor of Fine and Performing Arts at Oyster Bay High School at 624-6534.

The band hopes to perform on July 7, 14 and 21 on the lawn of Oyster Bay High School. On Monday, July 5 they will be playing for the annual Fourth of July parade and ceremony at the Derby-Hall bandstand in Oyster Bay, when the town will celebrate the holiday.