Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor Community Band"

Brandenburg Executive Director of Choral Society of the Hamptons

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The Choral Society of the Hamptons has named David M. Brandenburg its executive director. He is a composer, co-founder of the Hamptons Shakespeare Festival, and music director of the Sag Harbor Community Band.

Mr. Brandenburg will help produce the Society’s June 29 performance of Handel’s dramatic oratorio “Israel in Egypt” Part II (Exodus) and Bach’s cantata 79, “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild.”

The concert, a collaboration with the Greenwich Village Singers and the South Fork Chamber Orchestra, will take place in the Parish Hall of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton. It will be followed by a benefit dinner at The Palm restaurant with Mark Mangini, the Society’s music director and conductor, and soloists from the performance.

Interested singers can still arrange auditions by calling Brandenburg at 204-9402. More information is available at the society’s website, www.choralsocietyofthehamptons.org.

“David Brandenburg is an accomplished administrator who knows a wide variety of music and a respected member of the East End cultural community. His skills will contribute strongly to the progressively higher standards of performance we have achieved under Mr. Mangini,” said Daniel McKeever, the Choral Society’s president.

Brandenburg’s administrative experience began shortly after he graduated from Yale with a major in music and earned a master’s degree in music and music education from Columbia. He became program manager and director of information systems for Meet the Composer, a national organization based in New York City, and for 11 years was music director of the Yale Jazz Ensemble. In 1996, with the actor Josh Gladstone, he co-founded the Hamptons Shakespeare Festival, of which he remains the artistic director.

In addition to bringing productions to the South Fork, Brandenburg has contributed to the community as M.C. of the Teeny Awards, a high school theater recognition program of the East End Arts Council. For three years, he was a panelist for the “capacity building initiative” of the East End Arts Council and the New York State Council on the Arts.

David Brandenberg


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The new Sag Harbor Community Band conductor on plans for the Fourth of July, his favorite 80’s pop band, and the difficulties of jumping in and rehearsing dozens of songs for the summer concert series in only two months time.  

I took a look at you resume; it was very impressive, attending Columbia and Yale University, then later teaching at Yale. Why did you choose this lower profile position?

The community band is such a great tradition in Sag Harbor; it’s over 50 years old. It’s really amazing. As they describe it, it is really a bit of Americana right here in the village. I love band music; I’ve played band music and conducted band music for many years. I like making music on a regular basis and I’m already here in Amagansett doing freelance work. My family has been here for over 35 years and so I spent summers here growing up as far back as I can remember. I noticed the band was looking for a new conductor and it just seemed to fit with my schedule.

What did you know about the Community Band when you applied for the job?

I actually never heard them play until I auditioned for them this past spring. I’ve known about them for many years, but I’ve never actually heard them until just this year. They actually have a nice all-volunteer structure with several different officers and a board of directors. They seem to be a well-oiled machine performing every week at the American Legion and at the other various venues throughout the summer.  

How are things starting between you and The Community Band?

Well, we have been in rehearsal since I took over in the beginning of May; we already performed once at the Memorial Day Parade and ceremony in Sag Harbor. We’ll be playing at the Southampton Fourth of July parade and our first Tuesday Night concert at the American Legion is the night after.

One part of my role as music director is programming all of the concerts, selecting the music. We have nine Tuesday night concerts and we play something like ten pieces per concert, it’s about 90 pieces of music to prepare for a season. That doesn’t even include holiday appearances. That’s quite a lot. You want to have a good mix of pieces that we play well plus new pieces that might challenge the group and challenge the audience.


Two months in, how would you characterize the band?

It’s a great group of people; everyone has been extremely welcoming and nice to me. It’s been a great experience meeting all the folks involved and making music with them as well. It’s a wide variety of people from high school students to retirees to professional musicians. It’s a great cross section of the Sag Harbor community.

Have there been any bumps in the road, joining and leading an already established group?

No, everything is actually going very well; I do have to say that it has been quite the challenge with only eight rehearsals to prepare 80 to 90 pieces of music. The great thing is that the band has played a lot of the music before so a lot of the work is my own homework. It’s been a busy couple of months getting caught up with the rest of the group.

You taught jazz at Yale University eleven years. Are you going to add in some jazz to the bands program?  


Yeah, I got my undergrad degree at Yale…and then later I was the Music Director for the Yale Jazz Ensemble from 1997 to 2008. [The Community Band] actually already has a few pieces that are jazz influenced or jazz oriented already. I am a huge fan of jazz but this summer I don’t have a lot of flexibility to introduce new music to the band’s repertoire because…we wouldn’t have enough time to practice new pieces. In the next few years we’ll see how much jazz seeps into the band’s repertoire.

Fourth of July is right around the corner, I assume we will be hearing a lot of Sousa?

A lot of marches. John Philip Sousa is great; but personally I’m a big Henry Fillmore fan. I love the Fillmore marches. I don’t want to say that I like them more than the Sousa marches because that can be seen as sacrilegious in some ways; but I think because Sousa marches are played so often that the Fillmore marches are a little less formulaic. You can’t beat Sousa’s melodies, that’s part of the reason why they have lasted so long. The bottom line is I love them all equally.

Should the crowd be expecting any surprises at the parade?

I think in this transition year I am working with the recourses I have been handed so I don’t think there are any surprises; this year at least. It’s hard to predict the future but I’m looking forward to a future with the band when I can put a mark on the repertoire.  

Your career seems to center around traditional music, do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

I have to say…pop music from the eighties, which I used to hate at the time, I find myself being very nostalgic for. I have to admit that Duran Duran’s greatest hits found its way into my music collection. I can’t deny it.

A Band in Search of a New Leader

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One Tuesday night last summer, Sag Harbor Community Band president Dave Lee watched as a third generation of hopeful band members scampered through a crowd in front of the band’s home base at the Sag Harbor American Legion.

“Seeing that – it is good, a wonderful thing for the Harbor,” said Lee. “There are very few bands like ours around, just doing it for the sake of doing and because we like to be with each other.”

For a band so steeped in family, and community, this summer season comes with unprecedented change, as the Sag Harbor Community Band is without a leader after 30 years with the retirement of Fred Hines, Jr.

Hines, a longtime Sag Harbor resident, came to the village a music teacher and trombone player serving as band director at Pierson High School. Lee approached him, asking him to come down for one of the band’s rehearsals.

“They got a taste of what I did and ultimately, they wanted me,” remembered Hines. “It was sort of like an audition and I think that is a good way to audition. During a performance, you can’t get away with anything.”

A graduate of the University of Kentucky, where he was a member of the marching band, Hines played the brass and tinkling the ivories professionally in a number of groups around Lexington, Louisville and Cincinnati, as well as in the 2nd Division Army Band, directing that unit’s dance band. It was coming to Sag Harbor to teach that brought him into the Sag Harbor Community Band fold, although Hines admits, he could never quite put down the trombone.

“I did get to play some,” he said of moving from musician to conductor. “I liked to feature some trombone pieces. I used to have a mighty good time getting up with the horn section.”

Ultimately, it was not 30-years of “Stars and Stripes Forever” or the band’s closing number, “Now is the Hour,” that led Hines to retire, but rather a calling to be with his children and grandchildren back in Kentucky where he and his wife Janice plan to move. However, Hines said he has every intention of sneaking back to Sag Harbor to watch the Community Band each and every time he can.

According to Lee, the band has already formed a search committee for their new herald and will hopefully make its choice before the end of March when rehearsals for the summer season traditionally commence.

Technique, and above all, patience, said Hines, are key qualities the band should look for in his replacement.

“I think it pays off because it makes what you are telling the band clearer,” said Hines of training as a conductor. “One of the oldest tricks in the book is you have to do everything one beat ahead, but there are people who can do this without training. As long as it works, it works.”

“I just enjoyed it,” he continued. “And if you enjoy something, I think everyone has a great time.”

As president of the board for close to 20 years, Lee said replacing Hines will undoubtedly pose a challenge, but that the Sag Harbor Community Band has had a 50-year history of the chips falling in its favor.

In 1957, remembered Lee, a celebration was planned for the village and residents discovered there was no community band to speak of for several years, but the village did have $600 in funding it had left to the previous band.

“We used that to buy some music, some uniforms and we have been going ever since,” said Lee. “It has always worked out very well and gone smoothly even though we don’t know what the hell we are doing.”

A percussionist in the British Army Band, Lee is one of a handful of original members who still play or serve the band, although he described it similarly to Hines, as a family that continues to grow and support each other, even boasting cameo performances by musicians visiting Sag Harbor – a trend Lee embraces.

“I am the MC because I have the biggest mouth and I always ask if there are musicians out there or if anyone has any friends, please don’t hesitate to sit with us,” said Lee. “We have a number of accomplished musicians that sit with us, and we draw some nice big crowds.”

According to Lee, the band’s search committee has found four people they want to interview and audition in front of the band.

“I think they really have a great head start on things down there,” said Hines. “A lot of people fall in love, coming down there on a Tuesday night. This is a very unique thing we have here, I think.”