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Patchogue Veterans Day celebration to honor John Philip Sousa

The Atlantic Wind Symphony plays a salute-to-the-troops concert

The Atlantic Wind Symphony plays a salute-to-the-troops concert at Heckscher State Park in East Islip in 2013. Photo Credit: The Atlantic Wind Symphony

The marches of John Philip Sousa are an obvious theme for a concert saluting veterans. But as Edward Albinski, who's been with the Atlantic Wind Symphonic Band since 1969, says, "It's also appropriate because Sousa was himself a veteran of the United States Marine Corps."

Albinski, who plays French horn for the band, will put his brass instrument aside for "Sousa: A Veterans Day Celebration" on Sunday, Nov. 8, in order to share with the audience some of his research into the life and career of the composer best known for such patriotic anthems as "Stars and Stripes Forever."

To begin with, there's Sousa's history with the venue, the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. Sousa brought his touring band -- not unlike the 46-piece Atlantic Wind, conducted by John Leddy -- to Patchogue on July 23, 1923, for a concert at the vaudeville theater and music hall then known as Ward & Glynne's Theatre. They made a return engagement June 23 the following year.

But Sousa's Long Island connection wasn't as fleeting a pair of concerts. He maintained a home, Wild Bank, in Sands Point from 1915 to 1932. The John Philip Sousa House was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966. An elementary school in Port Washington still bears his name. His great-granddaughters, Priscilla Sousa Ulmann and Nancy Sousa Gillon, are scheduled to attend Sunday's event.

But let's not forget his music.

"He was much more than a bandleader and composer of marches," Albinski says. "He wrote many operettas, including 'El Capitan.' And he always carried vocalists and a violin soloist with his band. A piece that people wouldn't necessarily associate with Sousa today is on our program." Kate Stocker will be violin soloist on "Nymphalin," a slow waltz. "Lots of his compositions were dance music at the time," Albinski says.

But Sousa's marches will not be neglected: "Stars and Stripes," of course, and "Semper Fidelis," the Marine Corps march. Also there's "Liberty Bell" from an unfinished Sousa operetta. If you're unsure where you heard it before, it could be "Monty Python's Flying Circus," which adopted it as the TV series' signature tune.

But it's not an all-Sousa concert: There's a Saint-Saens piece, written to encourage American entrance into the Great War (World War I). And Paul Pontieri, mayor of Patchogue, who also plays the tuba when he has the time, will narrate Copland's "Lincoln Portrait."

WHEN | WHERE 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, Patchogue Theatre, 71 E. Main St.

TICKETS $10-$25; 631-207-1313,


On Veterans Day, officially observed Wednesday, Nov. 11, there are other concerts, though not necessarily for the occasion:


The prolific rock, jazz, blues and pop artist brings his current tour to Bay Shore for an 8 p.m. show at the acoustically sublime YMCA Boulton Center, 37 W. Main St. Tickets: $60-$65, 631-969-1101,


Bruce Engel conducts the faculty/graduate student ensemble in "Flight," a recital featuring selections by Rossini, Johann Strauss, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, John Williams and others, 8 p.m. at Staller Center, Stony Brook University. Tickets: $5-$10; 631-632-2787,

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