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Letter to the Editor:

Wildcat Band gets 'Bravo' for N.H. concerts

on June 02, 2015 10:54 AM

We don’t often shout “Bravo!” at concerts up here in Penacook, N.H., but we shouted it a lot last weekend when a band from Home, Pa., came up to perform.

Why? They were magnificent, and they brought us a special treat: brass band music that hadn’t been heard here since the mid-1800s. It was as if they opened a musical time capsule!

The band is the Wildcat Regiment Band, and we are forever grateful that they preserved and mastered the challenging music from the Port Royal Band Books, and brought it back home to us. I had the great honor of filming the concerts to commemorate the occasion.

Wearing authentic Union uniforms and playing period instruments, members of the Wildcat Regiment Band were an impressive sight. They even inspired us to consider starting our own “over-the-shoulder” brass band. Bravo!

Althea Barton

Penacook Films

From Dixie to Yankee Doodle
American Profile
April 29 2012

IUP Bandsmen

Revelers, bands, protesters to mark inauguration

MARC LEVY, Associated Press
Published: 11:51 a.m., Sunday, January 16, 2011

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - There won't be a parade to mark Tom Corbett's inauguration as Pennsylvania's 46th governor, but the capital city nonetheless will be transformed into a stage for thousands of revelers, performers, dignitaries and even protesters.

Corbett and his wife, Susan, will begin their public appearances at 8 a.m. with a Catholic Mass a block down State Street from the Capitol, and can celebrate until midnight if they wish at the inaugural ball at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.

"It'll be a long day, but you know what? It'll be exciting," said Kirsten Page, the inaugural committee spokeswoman.

The inaugural ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. Corbett's lieutenant governor-elect, Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley, will be sworn in before that. Corbett, a Republican who is now the state attorney general, will take his oath on the steps of the east entrance to the Capitol, where a large fountain is framed by a granite amphitheater. He's expected to speak for about 12 minutes.

Temperatures are expected to be a few degrees above freezing. But the National Weather Service is predicting rain, and the event could be moved across Commonwealth Avenue into the ornate - but relatively cramped - Forum auditorium, which seats about 1,800 people.

The state's Supreme Court chief justice, Ronald D. Castille, will administer the oath. Susan Corbett will hold a William Penn Bible, which Corbett chose for its historical significance to the state. Printed in 1698, Gov. Dick Thornburgh also used it at his inauguration. Entertainers will include the 28th Infantry Division Band, the 553rd Air National Guard Band of the Mid-Atlantic, Valley Forge Military Academy & College Herald Trumpet Team, Wildcat Regiment Band and Keystone State Boys Choir and Pennsylvania Girlchoir. Singing the national anthem will be Lancaster County native Heather Harley.

Tickets to the Mass at the Cathedral of St. Patrick and the inauguration are free, but seating will be limited. On Friday, just 180 of the 2,000 seats open to the public were still available, Page said.

An additional 3,000 seats are reserved for family members and dignitaries, such as former governors and Pennsylvania's members of Congress. There is a standing-room-only area, and the ceremony will be televised live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

The inaugural ball will feature three live bands, 30 bar stations and dozens of chefs toiling in five regionally themed pits preparing modern-day twists on distinctly Pennsylvania foods from venison pot pies to fried perch sliders to flaming mushrooms.

"These guests should not wait or want for anything," said Kim Koch of caterer JDK Group. Susan Corbett is planning to wear a floor-length gown made of butterscotch variegated organza that was created by a Harrisburg-area designer.

Doors to the ball open at 7:30 p.m., and the $150 tickets can be purchased online. Already, 4,000 tickets had been sold as of Friday, Page said, and some Harrisburg-area hotels are booked solid Tuesday night, including the downtown Hilton Harrisburg.

"We anticipate a lot of limousines coming and going," said general manager Joe Massaro. While some governors have led midday parades through the streets of Harrisburg, Corbett will forgo that, Page said, partly to avoid extra work for the police in a city strapped for cash. Some city officials say it should seek bankruptcy protection from creditors. Protesters from around the state who support a moratorium on shale gas drilling - and criticize Corbett for accepting large campaign contributions from the industry - plan to assemble behind the Capitol before the ceremony.

In theory, no taxpayer money is supposed to be spent on the events. Still, state police, Capitol police and Harrisburg police will provide security.

Nearly 10,000 state employees who work in downtown Harrisburg have been given the day off to ease traffic and parking congestion, and a number of buildings in the Capitol Complex will be closed. Meanwhile, legislators are expected to convene in Harrisburg that day and can claim a per diem for being there.

The inaugural committee is raising private donations to pay the cost, including police overtime, Page said. Contractors are setting up the swearing-in stage and the ball, and the committee is paying for use of the Farm Show's expo hall.

Page said she did not know yet how much money the inaugural committee had raised, or how much the whole event would cost. Any leftover food from the ball will be donated to Channels Food Rescue, a nonprofit organization that collects donated food and distributes it to homeless shelters and soup kitchens.

The Punxsutawney Spirit

Indiana County's Wildcat Regiment Band to perform at inauguration

January 14, 2011 By Staff Reports

INDIANA - The Wildcat Regiment Band of Indiana County will participate in the inauguration of Gov.-elect Tom Corbett Tuesday, providing music for the ceremony to be held on the front steps of the state capitol.

The band is a re-creation of the regimental band of the 105th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, the Wildcat Regiment, formed in 1861 with volunteers from Indiana and surrounding counties, the area known as the Wildcat legislative district.

Many members of the civilian Indiana Brass Band joined to form the regimental brass band. The Indiana Brass Band performed in and around the town of Indiana as early as 1842.

The incoming governor invited the band to perform at his inaugural after seeing it perform several times, according to First Sergeant Rick McFerron.

"Gov.-elect Corbett and his wife have seen us perform several times, most recently at the grand opening of the Gettysburg Visitors Center," he said Friday. "We met them and talked to them, and they are very familiar with what we do."

According to Clarence Stephenson's History of Indiana County, Feb. 22, 1861, the Indiana Brass Band traveled to Harrisburg "to participate in the pageant of receiving Mr. Lincoln at the capitol of our state." Thus, Tuesday, it will be almost 150 years to the day that the current band members will retrace the steps of their predecessors.

Today, the Wildcat Band is comprised of musicians of all ages and from various professional backgrounds. Like their predecessors, the current bandsmen have been recruited from the same geographical area in Western Pennsylvania and come from all walks of life.

In addition to McFerron, the bandmaster is Bruno J. Pino, the principal musician is Donald Amendt, and the band's Sergeant Major is Sherman Good.

The Wildcat Band has performed for historic and civic events throughout the eastern United States. National Park Service engagements include regular visits to Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, Manassas, and Monocacy, and the band performs extensively in western Pennsylvania and at musical festivals and other events in towns such as Bethlehem and Lancaster, Winston-Salem, N.C., and Wheeling, W.Va.

The band has been invited to perform in the Governor's Residence in Harrisburg as well as the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The Wildcats have been fortunate to participate in musical events at the Chautauqua Institution in New York and the Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy Center in Washington.

The band also performs at 19th century balls, dances and cotillions, and conducts lectures and demonstrations that address the history of the 19th century brass band movement and the evolution of brass instruments.

As the time period of 2011 through 2015 approaches, members of the Wildcat Band are looking forward to celebrations commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. For instance, a National Civil War Music festival will be held in Frankfort, Ky., in September 2011. This event, Cornets & Cannons, will feature period military bands from across the nation.

Among other events, a re-creation of the Grand Review is being planned for May 23, 2015, where thousands of troops are expected to march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

The Tribune Democrat

Wildcat Band to play at inaugural

HOME - The Wildcat Regiment Band of Indiana County has been invited to perform for the inauguration of Governor-elect Tom Corbett on Jan. 18 in Harrisburg.

The band is a re-creation of the regimental band of the 105th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, the Wildcat Regiment. The regiment was formed in 1861 with volunteers from Indiana and surrounding counties, the area known at the time as the Wildcat legislative district.

The 24-member band has performed for historic and civic events throughout the eastern part of the United States. The band has been invited to perform at the governor's residence in Harrisburg as well as before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The band also has performed at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., and at the Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Indiana Gazette

Local band to play at Corbett's inaguration

Posted: Sunday, January 9, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 11:42 pm, Sat Jan 8, 2011.

By HEATHER ROTH | 0 comments

To call it an honor is an understatement.

The 24-member Wildcat Regiment Band of Indiana County will be performing at the inauguration of Gov.-elect Tom Corbett on Jan. 18 in Harrisburg, at the personal invitation of his wife, Susan Corbett.

"I'm honored, to say the least, that we were asked to do this," said B.J. Pino, the bandmaster and one of the founders of the band. "(Susan Corbett) and her husband both are genuinely concerned (and) interested in preservation and historic value and especially the American Civil War. ... She's found merit in what we do, in the manner in which we perform, and I would hope our musicality is of great interest." The band, a re-creation of 1860s regimental band of the 105th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, has previously performed at National Park Service events, music festivals, the Governor's Residence in Harrisburg, the Chautauqua Institution in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It features Civil War-era music played on Civil War-era instruments by men dressed in full Civil War era uniforms, from eyeglasses to pocket watches.

Pino met Susan Corbett when the band performed at the dedication of the new visitor's center at Gettysburg, where she was coordinating the ceremony, he said. Apparently, she liked their music enough to call and ask the band to perform later this month.

J.R. McFerron, treasurer and first sergeant with the band, said they expected to provide about 25 minutes of prelude music, then to play for the procession of the former state governors. He said they also expected to play "Amazing Grace" just before the inauguration ceremony begins.

"We're really delighted in the fact that they invited us," he said.

Many of the Wildcat Regiment Band's performances are in summer, when they battle high temperatures and humidity in their wool uniforms. This year, they're planning on taking hand warmers and packing warm layers to insulate themselves against the January cold.

"It could be (a factor) depending how cold it is," he said. "It is something that we're considering."

The band is made up of 24 men, ranging from a Penns Manor High School senior to the sergeant major, Sherman Good, who is in his late 70s, McFerron said.

All are "exceptional musicians," and form a sort of family, Pino said.

"This group is so cohesive, this group of men is a family, that is a success. The manner in which they carry themselves, the manner in which they take this so seriously, (is important) because their only reward is knowing they have the privilege and the honor of playing in places that are so unique."

Their attention to detail goes all the way to period reading glasses, or researching the songs to make sure they are played appropriately. Even the instruments themselves are from the 1800s.

"We're always working on that kind of detail level. ...It's very challenging," McFerron said.

The original Wildcat Regiment Band only served with the infantry for a year or two, before a struggling federal government found it and other bands like it too expensive to maintain. Many of its members previously played with the civilian Indiana Brass Band, whose performances date back to 1842.

In 1861, the Indiana Brass Band performed at the pageant welcoming President Abraham Lincoln to Harrisburg; now, almost 150 years later, the Wildcat Regiment Band is representing both the past and the current residents of Indiana County again.

"We carry the spirit of the people of this area with us," Pino said. "We always considered ourselves as ambassadors."

Pino and his father, a longtime music teacher, started looking into forming the band after attending a similar group's performance in the 1980s. Slowly, they accrued a group of skilled musicians, and had formed the band by 1992.

"We've been blessed to have a very, very fine group of gentlemen that are exceptional musicians. (This band) could not exist, would not have existed, (without them). It's one thing to have an idea, but it's another to have a band," he said.