Conductors of the Repasz Band
|Listed below are all the current and previous directors of the Repasz Band. Unless otherwise noted, the dates served by each are from a list compiled by Earl R. Williams, the Band’s historian.
Albert Nacinovich earned a BS in Music Education from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, an MS in Music Education from Ithaca College, and completed additional studies in music at schools including the University of Michigan. He taught instrumental music at all levels for 36 years in the Williamsport Area School District and as an Adjunct Professor at Lycoming College. He has performed as a trumpet soloist, with the Bobby McCreary Big Band, The Billtown Brass, and with various community and church organizations, as well as teaching private students. He was also a founding co-director of the New Horizons Band of Williamsport, a concert band for seniors.
Al has held numerous offices in the Pennsylvania Music Educators’ Association (PMEA), including two terms as District President, seven years as a state officer, and State President from 1984-86. He was named to the Mansfield University of Pennsylvania “Alumni Honor Roll” in 1990 and to PMEA’s “Hall of Fame” in 2009.
Jeffrey Dent also was selected as Assistant Director of the Repasz Band in September 2003. Jeff is a graduate of Mansfield University of PA with a degree in Music Education. At Mansfield he was principal clarinet in the wind Ensemble and Orchestra, member of the Clarinet Choir, and performed with the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Band and Orchestra. His directing responsibilities have included Hughesville, Hanover, and Jersey Shore Area High School Bands, and the Jersey Shore Town Band.
Jeff is retired from Band Director for the Jersey Shore Middle School Band and Jazz Band. His middle school band, was selected to perform for the 2004 PMEA All State Conference. Jeff is very active in PMEA and has served in several officer positions for Tournament of Bands.
Gordon Taylor, USN Retired, has been Assistant Director of the Repasz Band (from 1985 to 2016 when he was granted Emeritus status.) Gordon relocated to Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1980 following his retirement from the U.S. Navy where he had served as an Instructor at the U.S. Navy School of Music and performed with the U.S. Navy Jazz Band. He was Director of the Commander Amphibious Forces Atlantic Fleet Band, which was featured on a Presidential People-to-People Tour and performed for numerous heads of state. A very talented saxophonist and jazz musician, Gordon has frequently been featured as a soloist with the Repasz Band. He also directed the Scottish Rite Imperial Teteque Band, performed with the Bobby McCreary Big Band, and in pit orchestras for musicals performed throughout the area.
George Calapa served as Assistant Director of the Repasz Band from 1961-66, Co-Director from 1966-68, and as Director from 1968-82, when forced to retire from that position due to his health. George served a total of 21 years as director of the band, now the third longest term in that position. After retirement as director, he was honored with the designation Director Emeritus and continued to perform as a member of the clarinet section until his death in September 1988 at the age of 78. A resolution declaring the Band’s appreciation for George’s service to the band was presented to him on July 10, 1982. He was a member of the Band for 57 years. George was a talented clarinetist who had been recruited by the NY Central Shop Band, Avis, PA. He is still remembered by many a Band member for his oft-repeated encouragement to get on with our rehearsals – “Let’s go, it’s getting dark.”
W. Herdic Wood – The Band played for the Pennsylvania National Guard during the Spanish American War from 1898 to the end of the war under the directorship of W. Herdic Wood. Mr. Wood served until 1910 as Director of the Repasz Band.
Daniel Repasz became a member of the Band in 1840. Recognized for his dynamic musical character, he became a major force behind the Band’s transformation to a fine brass band. He was elected as the Band’s fourth director, serving in that capacity from 1856 to 1872, the fourth longest term as conductor. In gratitude for his dedication and accomplishments, the Band members adopted the name Repasz Band in 1859.
John Hazel, “one of America’s most noted cornetists, bandmasters, and march composers, was hailed by national publications as one of the greatest cornetists the world had produced.” Hazel wrote more than 75 compositions, including “Spirit of America,” “Our Blue Jackets” for the Repasz Band, “Lycoming Motor March,” and “Keefer Grenadier” (a line of cornets manufactured in Williamsport by the Keefer Instrument Company). He recorded many solos and duets for the Edison phonographic Studios between 1903-07. In 1907, he returned to Williamsport and “became the director of Williamsport’s famed Repasz Band.”
Hear a recording of John Hazel playing.
The Repasz Band’s 100th Anniversary Programme notes ” . . . of Mr. Hazel there is little need to make extended reference at this place. He has achieved a national reputation as a musician of extraordinary genius, and a director of very high ability.”1
In November 1995, the Repasz Band and Williamsport’s Scottish Rite Imperial Teteque Band performed a memorial concert to the “Wizard Cornetist,” with proceeds used to fund a permanent, interactive John Hazel Exhibit at the Lycoming County Historical Museum in Williamsport. The music programmed for this concert included solos for which he was famous (performed by Mark Murray), some of Hazel’s original compositions for band, and a selection of traditional patriotic American music arranged by John Hazel for the Repasz Band to use for Flag Day services still observed annually in Williamsport.2
A. K. Mabie is credited with having been both director and leader prior to 1859.
Captain Joseph Grafius was the first Director of the Repasz Band (then the Williamsport Band). He served in that capacity from 1831 through 1844. Then followed George Fulton, of Tunkhannock, in 1844. Then there was a period of change and uncertainty, until 1872, when G. Morris Repasz, a son of Daniel Repasz, was elected musical director, and filled the position with great ability. During the period just referred to, Milton Repasz, also a son of Daniel Repasz, was leader of the band, and he was widely known not only for his abilities as a leader, but also because of his exceptionally fine performance on the E-flat cornet, for many years the only “lead” instrument in the band, and one that has of late been almost altogether supplanted by other instruments. Succeeding directors were Lyman J. Fisk, elected June 29, 1880, and who had assisted Mr. Repasz, and then directed the band for several years; G. Morris Repasz was elected director June 6, 1884; Charles S. Shields, March 30, 1886. E. S. Luce, engaged in May 1890, was the first director who received a salary, that was paid by members of the band. Following Mr. Luce were H. S. Krape, elected in September 1891; Charles S. Shields, 1902. Mr. Shields was succeeded by W. Herdic Wood, who filled the post until his death in May 1910.1
The Band’s 100th Anniversary Programme states that “from a modest beginning, the band steadily grew, and became one of the most noted musical organizations in the Eastern states. This was due largely to two things – the self sacrifice of its members, who loved music for the sake of music, and to the ability of its directors and leaders. In the early years, there often was little distinction made between directors and leaders, and the terms are confounded. . . .”1,3