The Lehigh Valley Italian American Band is the best regional concert band that many have never heard.
With origins in the ethnic Italian neighborhoods of Roseto and Easton, the band—following in the historical footsteps of the old Easton based Triple City Band– is actually quite well known in the Easton area.
Performing in various ethnic festivals such as the Roseto Big Time and old-country style processionals of churches like St. Anthony’s and St. Placido in which the statue of the patron saint is carried throughout the streets, the band is known in these neighborhoods for its signature piece, the Italian march Caderna. Locally the march is called Number 9 because the directors numbered the marches and called out the numbers during the processionals. (The Godfather movie featured this type of church processional in the form of the San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy.)
Over the years the Lehigh Valley Italian American Band grew in size and stature from about 10 members (who are actually independent contractors) to its current complement of some 40 members who represent many of the top local musicians including promising young musicians who are graduates of music departments at Penn State, Kutztown, Mansfeld, Moravian, and Lehigh, and other prestigious colleges and universities. Several members played in the Penn State Blue Band. Others play in area musical organizations such as the Allentown, Reading, and Pottstown symphonies and the Allentown, Pioneer, Municipal, Bethlehem Legion, Macungie, and Marine bands.
In addition, the band has expanded its repertoire to include standard American parade and concert pieces in the tradition of John Phillip Sousa and the Boston Pops, as well as ethnic Irish, German, Polish, and French numbers. For example, in addition to playing the Italian church festivals of our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Roseto, or St. Anthony’s, Easton, the band has played the Goschenhoppen (Mennonite) Folk Festival, Pennsburg, Das Awkscht Fescht, Macungie, and St. Patrick’s Day parades in Allentown and the coal regions. It is the only regional concert band that still marches in parades, thereby keeping alive the Sousa tradition.
In 1996, the band participated in a two-week concert tour of Europe playing in such venues as Heidelberg, Munich, Venice, Verona, Lucerne, and Rotenburg.