On Tuesday, the city of Galveston’s free summer band concerts kicked off its current season at the Sealy Pavilion, across from Rosenberg Library, 2310 Sealy St., in Galveston.
Citizens of Galveston voted favorably for funding the free concerts in 1928, which used to be held at the band shell at Menard Park before moving to its current location in the summer of 1988.
Through the years, the summer band concerts have only been directed by three conductors in its 89-year span. Felix Stella directed the band for 32 years, William Barlow directed it for two years, and Frank G. Incaprera, the current conductor, has been directing the band ever since.
Incaprera, who began conducting the concerts at the age of 36, is now 93, and has no plans of stopping — at least not yet. Incaprera had played in a variety of bands around the world and was asked to lead the band after his appearances on “Teen Hideaway,” which was a TV show on Channel 11.
“I’ve always been associated with these concerts ever since I used to carry my dad’s trumpet at the age of 4 when he played in the band when it first started,” Incaprera said. “I’ve always had a tendency to lead the pack, so when I came back home, it was an easy transition for me to lead the band when I was asked to do so.”
The concerts features a band consisting of 22 professional musicians from Galveston, Harris and Brazoria counties. Gini Brown and Leslie Watts are the featured vocalists, who also talk about the rich history of Galveston throughout the evening performances.
A large portion of the concerts and program is geared toward children while the band plays a variety of genres of music. They are entertained with dancing to the music of the “Hokey Pokey” and also get to march in the Flag Parade, carrying flags donated monthly by Texas State Bank while the band plays the Mickey Mouse March.
“I wanted to turn the concerts into something that children would want to not only come to, but be a part of too,” Incaprera said. “To me, music is a sense of discipline and it has lead me throughout my life not only musically, but professionally as well. I want children to have education in some sort of music so that when they hear it — real music — they’ll want to take it up in school and keep music alive. It’s a sense of discipline that you don’t get in anything else.”
Through his 59 years of directing the band, Incaprera has said he’s entertained at least 200,000 people. Several generations of Galveston families have attended the concerts as well as visitors from many countries around the world.
Incaprera, who is assisted by Bob Gray, of Alvin, knows that one day soon he’ll have to give up the baton so that the tradition of entertaining families through live music continues here on the island.
“Our primary purpose at these concerts is audience participation, especially from the kids, which are the most important aspect of all of this to me,” Incaprera said. “I’ve built such a rapport with the audiences through the years, that I can joke with them and have witnessed kids who used to come here when they were young grow up and who are now bringing their kids. It’s a generational tradition that I hope never ends. If God were here himself, he would bless it.”
The free concerts will be from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Aug. 15 (weather permitting).
This upcoming Tuesday performance also will include a special performance by the Houston Children’s Chorus, which also will be performing at The Grand 1894 Opera House on June 18. There also will be a special patriotic performance in celebration of the Fourth of July on July 3.
For information, visit www.galvestonbeachband.org or call Incaprera, 409-599-5009.