|Compton Heights Concert Band|
The Compton Heights Concert Band of St. Louis presented Sousa-style band concerts with world-class Guest Artists.
The Band was founded in 1976 by Harry Swanger, President and Bassoonist. Harry passed away on 12/29/2022. He led the Band through everything and he continued to work every day in the office, even as we closed the building on Lafayette on Nov 30. I cannot express what he means to the community, the musicians, scholarship students, people who worked with us, soloists, artists, audience, bingo guests, community leaders, and everyone who was in contact with us throughout all of the 45 years... He had many friends. I cannot express the depth of his reach to everyone involved. He has touched so many lives. He was an extraordinary person. And, his history also includes tremendous work with social justice, rights of individuals and groups, and more. He has a very interesting life story. Diane
If you'd like to read a beautiful tribute by Kitty and his family, see
If you wish to communicate your condolences to the family, see the Band's facebook page which is administrated by his wife, Kitty.
The main season was an outdoor Summer concert series Sunday Serenades & Musical Mondays. The Band presented annual Memorial Day and December Holiday Pops concerts. The Holiday Pops were held at Powell Hall, Peabody Opera House, Skip Viragh Center for the Arts, the Sheldon, St. Elizabeth Academy, the Old Courthouse, and Purser Auditorium.
The Band toured to outstate Missouri, Nebraska, and Illinois. It also hosted the National Convention for the Association of Concert Bands at the Chase Park Plaza. Band President, Harry Swanger planned and executed "Opera Tours" for 15-35 Hugh Smith Fans from the audience. Kitty and Harry Swanger led the groups and gave wonderful tours. They traveled to Paris, London, Iceland, Amsterdam, Munich, Hamburg, Toronto, Chicago, New York, and Detroit to see Hugh Smith perform various operas.
The Band awarded 4-year College Scholarships under it's "SousaU" College Scholarship Program for 12 years. Along with performing and rehearsing in the Band, students received private lessons during their membership with the Band.
The Band collaborated with many guest artists, choruses, and bands throughout its history, most recently with the All American Alumni Band in a Labor Day Concert in 2019. The Band ran 2 charity bingos per week to fund the organization and, in addition, ran the bingo hall as hall provider for several other charities, until mid-March of 2020. The band concert experience has been expressed to the public through music, words, and by plein air painter, BillyO . To read a vivid description of a summer concert, see The Sounds of Summer, written by Robert E. Knittel. The Riverfront Times named Compton Heights Concert Band - Best Entertainment Value on a Hot Summer Evening.
The Band rehearsed year-round in the former Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at Lafayette & Longfellow Place. See Built St. Louis for photos of this beautiful facility. (Now, for sale)
The Band appeared on its own TV show "Sunrise Serenades" which aired for a year on KMOV-TV, CBS Affiliate with Harry Swanger and the band mascot, Moosic! For a segment featuring the late Johnnie Johnson, see "Sunrise Serenades - Johnnie Johnson". Sunrise Serenades TV show:
The Band was founded in 1976 by Harry Swanger, President and Bassoonist. Harry just passed away on 12/28/2022. He led the Band through everything. He continued to work every day, even as we closed the building on Lafayette on Nov 30th. Kitty Swanger (and daughter, Justine Lipiarski) administrate the Band's facebook page. Kitty was also very involved in the bingo operation and in the social arm of the Band.
The Band was conducted by professional conductor Edward Dolbashian 1998-2019. The original conductor in 1976 was Kaid Friedel who was a French Hornist in the St. Louis Symphony. There were conductors along the way who also brought their expertise and perspective to the Band, including Hi Martin, John McEnulty, Wm. Shane Williams, Steve Robinson, Gregory Fox, and Malcolm McDuffee.
Many THANKS to all who supported the Band throughout the years. Thank You Soloists, Thank You Audience, Thank You Crew, and all who worked for the Band. Thanks to the many Sponsors, Bandwagon Members, bingo "guests", Grant sources, Foundations, Caterers, and Corporations. And, a Special Thanks to the Board and the wonderful Band Members & Musicians. Deepest Thanks to Harry Swanger, Kitty Swanger and their family.
(Photo by Jim Sparks)