The year 1910 heralded a period of excitement for the American music scene.
With plays on Broadway, motion pictures, gramophones, and animated cartoons, the sights and sounds of music were dominating the landscape.
There were musical legends like George M. Cohan, Florenz Ziegfeld, and Irving Berlin; the popularization of ballroom dancing and Tin Pan Alley; and songs like When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbing Along; I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now; and In the Good Old Summertime.
The tunes of vaudeville were swinging all the way to Lehighton, where on June 20, 1910, Henry Reiss became the director of the fledgling Engine Co. #2 Boys Band, soon to be renamed the Lehighton Boys Band. It incorporated in 1914, and in 1981, expanded to become the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band when girls were invited to join the band.
This year, the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band marks its centennial with two anniversary concerts. The first is the Big Band Ambassadors Concert on Sunday, Oct. 10 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Lehighton Area Middle School. The second is the 100th Anniversary Concert on Saturday, Nov. 27.
In honor of its centennial, the members of the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band Anniversary Concert committee are contacting hundreds of alumni to participate in the concert. Any alumni of the band who would like to participate in the Alumni Concert, can contact the band director at (610) 377-1860, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"In preparing for our upcoming 100-year anniversary, we are trying to document the history of the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band," said band director Robert E. Fetterman, Jr. "We are asking everyone to provide whatever experiences and anecdotes they may have regarding the Band."
A form on their web site, www.lehightonboysandgirlsband.org, provides the details.
Fetterman is the thirteenth band director since the Band was formed in 1919 by Henry Reiss. Reiss was actually the band leader twice-the first band leader, from 1910 to 1914; and later returned as the fourth band leader, from 1917 to 1932.
Fetterman has a M.Ed in Music Education and is a retired public school band director. He began performing in community bands with the Repasz Band of Williamsport and presently performs as an alto saxophonist with the Allentown and Lehighton bands. He has been the music director of the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band since 1995.
The Lehighton Boys and Girls Band exists to give local boys and girls "an opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument, and in so doing, help build the character of the youth involved."
Asked why students should join this independent band, Fetterman replied, "It's fun and a good way to make new friends with like interests. It helps a kid start playing a band instrument and helps members already playing to become stronger players. It helps students with their school music."
The band has a limited selection of instruments that are available to students. Each student member of the band receives a half-hour group lesson per week on the instrument of their choice. The band is open to area students from age nine through high school graduation.
The Lehighton Boys and Girls Band owns a band hall at 197 N. 6th St. in Lehighton, which is open at regular times for lessons and practice. The complete band meets Tuesday evenings from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Band's Board president Steve Fatzinger pointed out that the musical group is a band, not an orchestra. You won't hear any stringed instruments, but you'll hear: a clarinet, a flute, a drum set, and lots of brass: saxophones, trombones, trumpets, a French horn, and a tuba.
"The Lehighton Boys and Girls Band has a distinctive sound. It's heavy on the brass," he explained.