Community Music Groups Working Together
A Newsletter of Southwestern Pennsylvania Band Partners
Inside This Issue:
West Hills Symphonic Band
Taken from the web on August 3, 2005 with permission by Tony Banks, President WHSB
The West Hills Symphony Band presented its debut concert on January
29, 1967. Under the direction of Joseph C Picchi; fifty-eight
musicians, ranging from high school students to senior citizens, laid
the foundation for the musical organization which continues to
flourish. The goal was to develop an assemblage of professional and
amateur musicians who could share their love of music with each other
and the community. This goal has been met and musical enrichment has
been provided for many.
No history of the band would be complete without a brief account of Joe
Picchi’s musical background. A lifelong musician, a teacher, and
conductor Joe began his studies at the age of 12. He attended
Duquesne University, Carnegie Tech, and Biarritz University of
France. An accomplished violinist, Mr. Picchi was a member of the
Pittsburgh Opera Company, Wheeling Symphonic Orchestra, Butler
Symphonic Orchestra, Clarion Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Light Opera
Company, and the Pittsburgh Chamber Orchestra. During his almost 20
years as a Montour School District music teacher, he developed an
excellent program for the community’s students. Under his
direction, the marching and concert bands received numerous awards and
Other notable contributors consist of past presidents Robert Depp, Dr.
T.T. Magel, Michael Lucente, Robert Stobbe, and Jeff Sammel. Tony
Banks, the current president is assisted by Vice-President Keith
Cosentino. Mary Lucenti has been a loyal supporter of West Hill
for decades. She served as Secretary for many years and continues to
assist in her role as hostess.
The popularity and longevity of the West Hills Symphony Band is
attributed to the dedication of every musician, contributor, and fan.
Some in the audience may fondly remember the Gargaro brothers, Vince
and Tony. Each brought their children into the fold. Walter
Vrusk, owner of Broadway Music in West Park and well-known brass
instructor, was an outstanding principal trumpet player for many years.
The sons of Allan Pontiere, Rusty and Ernest, both music teachers were
recognizable mainstays at one time.
Only four musicians still perform with the band since its inception.
Doc and Emmi Magel have been with West Hills for nearly 40 years. Their
son, Robert, is also currently a member. In fact, all five of the Magel
children have performed on stage with their parents in the past. Aldo
DiIanni and Edgar Sims are also active founding members.
Current conductor, Anthony L. DiIanni has been leading the ensemble
since the fall of 1998. Mr. DiIanni, U.S.N., Ret, has been a
musician since childhood and a director of U.S. Navy bands during his
long career with the military. Members of his family, brothers
Aldo and Nunzio, along with the recruitment of their children and
grandchildren have played key roles in keeping this band balanced with
Over the years, the West Hills Symphonic Band has performed at many
venues, our favorite being our home of 38 years, the Montour Senior
High School. Without the gracious assistance of the Montour
School District, this band could not exist. Our group has entertained
audiences at the Carnegie Library of Homestead, Crafton Park, Penn
State Beaver Campus, Moon Township Park, Sewickley Library, and the
David E. Williams School to name a few. Many of the concerts were
and are in support of programs to benefit public interests.
Today our performing members range in age from 14 to 86. It is our hope
that this fine tradition of providing an outlet for musicians and
music-loving audiences will grow. It is our hope that music and youth,
as well as the young at heart, will serve for many decades to come.
Finally, it is our hope that many of you will help us spread the love
of music to others.
Southwestern PA Community Bands (As of January 9, 2006
For complete listing see the online directory
Additions fromOctober 14, 2005
Pine Creek Community Band
Jeff Chambers, Conductor
Ken Yarnot, President
South Hills Community Concert Band
Ken Slish, Conductor
George A Shuff, Manager
Somerset County Community Band
Dan Croft, director
c/o Laurel Arts, Inc.
214 S. Harrison Ave.
PO Box 414
Somerset, PA 15501
Dave Breen, President
To be added to the online directory, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Combined Calendar (As of January 9, 2006 for Winter 2006)
For the entire calendar visit the online calendar
Southwestern Pennsylvania Band Partners is
dedicated to helping community music groups in the southwestern
Please visit us online at the address below to learn more or become involved.
Regional Bands with websites (for updated list vist the links page)
Contributing to the newsletter
Everyone is welcome to contribute an article to the newsletter.
The topic is up to you—something you think your fellow musicians would
be interested in. Just email your article to:
For additions to the website email:
In the next newsletter
In our next newsletter due out in early April you will find:
- Profile of the Three Rivers Community Band Festival
- Profile of the Armstrong Concert Band
Sarah McElfresh, East Winds Symphonic Band
Scott McElfresh, East Winds Symphonic Band
Kathy Wikowski, Allegheny Brass Band, North Suburban Symphonic Band
January 9, 2006