In Concert:
Community Music Groups Working Together

A Newsletter of Southwestern Pennsylvania Band Partners

Winter 2006
Volume 2 Issue 1 
Printable Version in PDF Format

Inside This Issue:
West Hills Symphonic Band | Community Bands | Combined Calendar | Contact Us | Other Information

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 recognition.

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 fine musicians.

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

Combined Calendar (As of January 9, 2006 for Winter 2006)
For the entire calendar visit the online calendar

January 2006:

Sun, 29
Aeolian Winds of Pittsburgh Carnegie Music Hall lobby, Oakland

February 2006:

Sat, 11
Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra
Upper St Clair High School

March 2006:

Sat, 4
Allegheny Brass Band North Allegheny Intermediate High School
Sat, 4
North Pittsburgh Philharmonic North Hills Jr. High School Auditorium
Sun, 5
North Suburban Symphonic Band Ross Elementary School, North Hills
Sat, 11
Edgewood Symphony Orchestra First Presbyterian Church of Edgewood
Mon, 13
East Winds Symphonic Band
Friendship Village, South Hills
Mon, 13
South Hills Community Concert Band
Whitehall Presbyterian Church
Sat, 25
Edgewood Symphony Orchestra Rodef Shalom Levy Hall

Contacting Us:

Southwestern Pennsylvania Band Partners is dedicated to helping community music groups in the southwestern Pennsylvania Region. 
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)

Aeolian Winds
Allegheny Brass Band
Armstrong Concert Band
Blairsville Community Concert Band
Butler County Symphony
Community Band South
East Winds Symphonic Band
Edgewood Symphony
Harrisville Community Band
Jeannette Community Band
Kiski Valley Community Band
Kittanning Firemen's Band
Musicians Concert Band
North Pittsburgh Philharmonic
North Suburban Symphonic Band
Ohio Valley Community Band
Pine Creek Community Band
Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra
Resurrection Band
Scottdale Concert Band
Somerset County Community Band
Washington Symphonic Orchestra
West Hills Symphonic Band
Westmoreland Symphonic Winds

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:

Sarah McElfresh,  East Winds Symphonic Band
Scott McElfresh, East Winds Symphonic Band
Kathy Wikowski, Allegheny Brass Band,  North Suburban Symphonic Band

January 9, 2006