A band for and by the community
Former high school band members rejoice, as the Patchogue-Medford School District has officially formed a community band, providing those who have since graduated an outlet to play.
At the helm of the band is retired Pat-Med Schools band director of 31 years Peter Randazzo as the conductor, leading the about 90 musicians already signed up, including graduates from the 1980s to the 2000s, and even some current high school students.
Mark Stuckey, Pat-Med’s director of art, music and cultural arts, who is accredited with coming up with the concept, said it was an idea he had had for a few years and when it came to choosing the band’s director, he said Randazzo, the former high school band director from 1981 to 2012, was a no-brainer decision.
“He is a great musician and people remember him and will love to see him,” he said of Randazzo, also hoping to draw a spectating crowd during their future performances.
To attract members of the community, Stuckey posted an online questionnaire/sign-up asking those interested for their information, including their instrument of choice and experience. Stuckey, a 2001 Pat-Med grad and saxophonist, will be playing among his students and former peers as well.
“We are really hoping this brings the community together as a whole and it just grows from there,” he said, emphasizing that he expects next summer to bring in sponsors and possibly community band T-shirts. “It’s going to be fun to play.”
But for now, the community band will function with virtually no cost. Players will bring their own instruments and Randazzo is volunteering his time. Eventually, the band will perform two summer concerts at Shorefront Park in Patchogue Village. Prior to each performance, three practices will take place.
After retirement, Randazzo, now 61, went on to become the band director of the Suffolk County Community College band. He currently lives in Nesconset with his wife, former Pat-Med English teacher Catherine Pentola, and their two children.
“It was a hell of a career,” Randazzo said of his time at Pat-Med. “I am absolutely delighted at the fact that they wanted to start a community band,” he said, noting that he attempted to do so upon his retirement, but lack of interest killed the thought. “Mark jumped all over this and pushed it to the gills to get it done. It’s fantastic.”
The band, Stuckey explained, will be made up of people with multiple music ranges including former music teachers, professional musicians and former and current student band players and will feature almost every band instrument, including flute, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, oboe, trumpet and baritone.
“It’s going to be a big band. It’s very exciting,” Randazzo said, also mentioning a former student who reached out to him from the 1985 graduating class, who will be driving over two hours from New Jersey to make practices.
Though selections have not been made, Randazzo said it would be mostly summer fare, with Americana songs and some marches. “Really, it depends on what they are able to perform. Some are pros, but some haven’t played since they graduated in 1985,” he said. “I have a range of songs from simple to more challenging pieces. We will see how they react.”
All rehearsals will be held on Mondays at Patchogue-Medford High School starting July 9. Concerts will be held at Shorefront Park on July 25 and Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, concerts will take place at Patchogue-Medford High School.
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