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Jan. 26, 2004


LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Penn Central Wind Band will present a free concert recreating the music of the 1930s ARMCO Band radio broadcasts Friday, Feb. 6, at 8 p.m. in the Weis Center at Bucknell University. The concert, according to conductor William Kenny, who says, "Each of the works on the program were performed on ARMCO Band radio broadcasts in 1936 and 1939."

"The program will include Victor Herbert's `March of the Toys,' Smetena's `Dance of the Comedians' from The Bartered Bride, William Walton's `Crown Imperial,' Chapi's `Serenata and Finale' from The Courts of Granada, Harry Alford's `The Skylner' and Sousa's `Sabre and Spurs' and `Manhattan Beach.'

"The most unusual work on the program is a humorous arrangement of variations on `The Three Blind Mice,'" says Kenny.

For nearly a decade in the '30s, national radio broadcasts of Frank Simon's American Rolling Mills Company Band were a weekly event. The ARMCO band was assembled by the administration of Cincinnati's ARMCO Steel Company to advertise its products. These products included "new" items such as refrigerators and air conditioners, and even stainless-steel flatware, as well as items that never quite caught on—such as steel houses.

Wanting only the best musicians of the day, the ARMCO leaders hired Frank Simon, John Philip Sousa's longtime solo cornetist, to contract musicians and to lead the group. Simon assembled one of the most celebrated ensembles of the first half of the 20th century, producing radio broadcasts which proved wonderfully successful, both musically and commercially.

"Rare recordings of the ARMCO Band offer a unique glimpse into 1930s society," says Kenny. "For example, the announcer, known as `The Ironmaster,' touts helpful new steel appliance and invites listeners to order the ARMCO pamphlet, Should Husbands Do Housework? — housework no doubt made easy by ARMCO's innovative steel products.

"The Penn Central Wind Band program is complete with its own `Ironmaster.' Mike Glazer will serve as announcer, using the same text used by the ARMCO band more than 60 years ago.

"Dale Orris, of Winfield, will perform Herbert L. Clarke's cornet solo, `The Debutante.'"

The Penn Central Wind Band, based in Lewisburg, is an all-volunteer organization. Members come from some 20 towns and cities from the surrounding area including Berwick, Bloomsburg, Danville, Mifflinburg, Selinsgrove, State College and Williamsport. Over 30 of the band's 40 members hold music degrees and many are active music teachers and professional performers. Bucknell sponsors the band as a service to the region.

Last month, the band was awarded the prestigious Sudler Silver Scroll Award. Administered by the John Philip Sousa Foundation, the award recognizes exemplary community bands. Just 25 bands from the nation have received the award since its inception in 1987.

The John Philip Sousa Foundation is a non-profit foundation dedicated to the promotion of international understanding through the medium of band music. Through the administration of band related projects, the foundation seeks to uphold the standards and ideals of that icon of the American spirit, John Philip Sousa.

Associate professor of music and chair of the department of music at Bucknell, and director of university bands, Kenny holds his degrees from Oregon State University and University of Illinois. With the Bucknell faculty since 1990, he also is a hornist in the Commonwealth Brass Quintet and principal horn with the Williamsport Symphony and the Orchestra of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale.

Note to media: William Kenny may be reached at kenny@bucknell.edu or phone 570-577-1357 (o) or 570-523-0176 (h)

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