‘World Famous’ band marks 65 years

Conductor John Eyre leads the band at Monday's rehearsal.

In 1946, three music teachers brought together a group of wind musicians and percussionists, many of them World War II veterans, to rehearse and perform at Pulaski Street School, which was then Riverhead High School. The band rehearsed on Monday nights, hence its original name, the Monday Night Band. Those three teachers were Howard Hovey of Riverhead, Charles Mockler of Bridgehampton and Chester Osborne of Center Moriches.

Now called the No Doubt World Famous Monday Night Band, the 65-member ensemble will return to Pulaski Street School this Sunday, May 15, for a concert celebrating its 65th anniversary. The program begins at 2 p.m.

Music director and conductor John Eyre will lead the band in marches, light classics and selections from the Broadway musical “The Sound of Music.” The concert will also feature the world premiere of “Fantasia in B Flat Minor for Concert Band” by Dr. Michael Walters and dedicated to the No Doubt World Famous Monday Night Band. A Riverhead High School graduate, Dr. Walters played in the band as a high school and college student, moved away and served on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, then returned and rejoined the group.

Band members, all volunteers, range from teenagers to 80-somethings and come from a variety of backgrounds and occupations, according to a press release issued by the band. The band performs regularly throughout the year and plays on the school steps during the summer months.

Over the years, the band has featured many noted guest soloists including New York Philharmonic clarinetist Stanley Drucker; saxophonist Sigurd Rascher; trumpeter Jimmy Burke; tubist William Bell; flutists John Wummer, Frances Blaisdell and Lois Pike Eyre; and French horn player Norman Pickering.

Past conductors have included the band’s founders and Charles Cardona, Michael Kendrot, George Lester and Donald Howard. Well-known guest conductors such as Edwin Franko Goldman have also stood on the podium.

Sunday’s concert is free, although the band will accept donations, which will be used to purchase music and support scholarships for high school music students.

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