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The Kenosha Pops Concert Band was established in 1922 as the American Legion Band, sponsored by Paul Herrick Post 21. The first musical director was Helmuth Schaefer who was succeeded by by Peter Niccolai, Sr. In 1924, George E. Manupella assumed the directorship, continuing until 1961. During Manupella’s tenure the name of the band changed to the “Kenosha Concert Band.” In 1961, Frank Niccolai was elected director. In 1967, Lt. Col. Mark Azzolina (USAF Ret.) succeeded him. The name of the band was again changed, this time to the “Kenosha Pops Concert Band” to reflect the programming of more “pops” style music. John Bunic followed as director in 1970 and led the band through 1993. Frank Germinaro assumed conducting duties the following year and was officially elected to the director’s position in 1995, conducting the band through the 2002 season. Craig Gall was appointed the band’s eighth Musical Director in the fall of 2002 after serving seven years as the band’s assistant conductor.
The Band has grown over the years from 35 members to approximately 60 full time performing musicians, numerous substitute players, support staff, and community volunteers. The players are a mix of professional musicians, college students, private music teachers, school band directors, and amateur musicians from all walks of life.
Previously, the concerts were staged from a portable band stand located in Navy Park. The Sesquicentennial Band Shell, located in Pennoyer Park overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan, was dedicated on July 4, 1988 and is the current site for the Pops summer season of concerts. The band also participates in the annual Kenosha Civic Veterans Parade. Finally, the Pops started a new tradition in 2002 with an annual Christmas concert each December.
The Pops offers a wide variety of entertainment ranging from TV and movie themes, Broadway show tunes, Big Band favorites, marches, standards, Dixieland, jazz, rock and roll, Latin rhythms, polkas, waltzes, children’s tunes, light classical selections, and novelty numbers. Guest performers are featured on many concerts. Master of ceremonies, Greg Berg, offers a vocal selection on each concert.
These enjoyable outdoor concerts are made possible by the City of Kenosha as well as our many patrons, local businesses, and friends
The Kenosha Lakeshore Youth Philharmonic offers an intensive orchestral experience to middle school and high school musicians.
Kenosha Unified School District offers a touring summer marching band program for students at all school-band-age levels. Continental Band and Rambler Band offer opportunities for novice and intermediate musicians whereas the Band of the Black Watch is the jewel of the high school bands program, bringing together musicians from all of Kenosha’s high schools. These bands perform in various parades and concert events throughout the summer locally within Southern Wisconsin and North Eastern Illinois and the Band of the Black Watch performs on an annual trip to varying locations which have included Disney World and Toronto.
Southeast Wisconsin Performing Arts (SEWPA) sponsors the Opera à la Carte evening concert series featuring middle school, high school and college singers.
The Kenosha Symphony Orchestra presents concerts in the acoustically correct Reuther Central Auditorium (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) at Walter Reuther Central High School in downtown Kenosha. Film composer and orchestrator Lucien Cailliet, orchestrator for The Ten Commandments, was the KSO conductor until 1960.
Since 2002, the outdoor Peanut Butter and Jam Concert Series has been held every Wednesday in August at Veterans Memorial Park.
Lincoln Park Live! concerts began in 2005 on the Lincoln Park lawns near the Warren Taylor Memorial Gardens.
A number of outdoor jazz events are offered throughout the summer months, most often at Veterans Memorial Park and the historic Kemper Center.
The CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) Emerald Knights Band of Kenosha, which includes students from all schools and backgrounds, was formed on Thursday, March 23, 1939 and since 2008 has sponsored the Great Lakes Band Championships, an offshoot of the former Kenosha Music Round-Up, with its origins in the early years of World War II. By the end of summer 2008, the Emerald Knights had competed with countless talented bands all over the midwest through the Mid-America Competing Band Directors Association (MACBDA).