The Memorial Concert Band of Colonie is based in the Town of Colonie, which is located in the Capital District (Albany area) of New York State, The region has a rich tradition of summer community bands dating back more than 100 years but limited community band presence during the remainder of the year. The Memorial Band was founded in the Fall of 1999, through the efforts of trumpet player Robert J. Ullery, to remedy this situation and to provide a performance outlet for accomplished musicians living in the region. Sponsorship, since the group’s inception, has been through the Town of Colonie, Department of Parks and Recreation and the Colonie Central School District, which provides rehearsal and performance venues. The “Memorial” part of the band’s name serves as a living tribute to deceased South Colonie Music Department administrators and educators, as well as to Memorial Band members.
The Memorial Band is comprised of approximately 70 members from across the Capital District and beyond. Our community band is dedicated to bringing the best in concert band music to the public though the performance of four concerts per year. The home stage for the band is the Mark Cornell Auditorium at Colonie High School, but the band has also performed at other regional venues as well as two Association of Concert Bands national conventions. Auditions are not normally required for membership, but a recommendation from a current member, submission of a resume of musical experience, and/or conductor approval is used to perpetuate the high level of musicianship.
The founding Music Director of the Memorial Band was Henry M. Carr, Jr. Maestro Carr served in that role until June 2011, when he was appointed Music Director Emeritus upon his retirement. The current Conductor is Douglas Dougherty, who had been the band’s principal trumpet. The Associate Conductor is Sgt. Maj. (Retired) Arthur Himmelberger, who is the Head of the Music Program and the Director of Bands at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Maestro Himmelberger has prepared and conducted the March concert since 2006, as well as periodically serving as a guest conductor. Last year, the position of Assistant Conductor was created, and band principal horn player Laura Jacaruso was appointed to the position. The purpose of this position is to develop a young conductor. The band is governed by a Board of Directors composed of officers and section representatives.
Numerous musical events highlight the ninteen year history of The Memorial Concert Band of Colonie. Soloists are usually drawn from the band personnel, but notable outside soloists have performed: George Father (trombone), Dale Underwood (alto saxophone), Vincent DiMartino (cornet/trumpet), William Dexter (vocal), Martin Tyce (trombone), Suzanne Clune (vocal), Cathy Sheridan (trumpet), Allyson Keyser (trumpet), and Bill Munro (bagpipes). Other highlights include a joint performance with the “Hellcats” drum and bugle corps from the US Military Academy Band, two ACB Convention performances (2006 and 2012), and two circus band performance, including one at the New York State Museum.