News Column

Third Brigade Band plans concerts, future

July 17, 2014

By Stephen J. Pytak, Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.

July 17--With new leadership, the Pottsville Third Brigade Band is planning new events and strategies to secure its financial future.

"The band's board of directors sees great opportunities in the future. Expect to see the Third Brigade Band in Pottsville more next year as we plan to create a concert series and perform a Yuengling Park, Joulwan Park and Union Station multiple times throughout the year. The band will also be performing additional concerts in our neighboring communities," said Stephen M. Horvath, a learning support teacher at Pottsville Area High School, who was named president of the band in March.

City Administrator Thomas A. Palamar said Tuesday the concert at the city's Yuengling Bicentennial Park and Gardens, which occupies the block on West Norwegian Street between 10th and 11th streets, will be free to the public and held from 6 to 9 p.m.Aug. 12.

The band will also be marching in the Schuylkill County Volunteer Fireman's Association Parade, scheduled to be held 1 p.m.Aug. 23 in Pottsville, according to Horvath.

Horvath said one of his goals as president is to organize historical files at the band's headquarters, 14 N. Third St.

The "Joseph H. Zerbey History of Pottsville and Schuylkill County," published in 1936, includes a bit of history on the band: "On Aug. 2, 1881, Gen. J.K. Sigfried mustered the band into the National Guards as the Third Brigade Band of Pennsylvania. After Gen. Sigfried was succeeded by Gen. JPS Gobin, the band still held its position on the Third Brigade staff."

The band has grown and changed since that time.

"I joined Pottsville'sThird Brigade Band in 2001. Since then, both the leadership and the membership has changed. However, we have always had a strong core of talented musicians who are dedicated to the band and to the performance of great music in Schuylkill County. Under our director, Richard Fries, the band is rehearsing challenging compositions and is performing at a high level," Horvath said.

Leslie Kraft, the literacy coach for Pottsville Area School District, said Tuesday she was president of the band from 2008 until March. She decided to take a year off from the band to pursue other interests, and the role of president was passed on to Horvath, who was the band's vice president.

When interviewed in 2012, Kraft said the band's budget varies from year to year.

"It's averaged at about $10,200 every year for the past five years," Kraft said in December 2012.

According to Kraft, expenditures in 2012 included:

- $1,700 in insurance, utility and maintenance costs for the band hall at 14 N. Third St. The property is owned by the City of Pottsville, which charges the band $1 a year to rent it.

- $7,900 to reimburse band members for time and travel expenses for attendance at gigs.

- $600 in band-owned instrument and music upkeep.

When asked how much it costs to run the band, Horvath said, "It depends on the number of gigs we play. We reimburse members basically for travel. And we have other expenses."

While the band is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, its musicians are usually reimbursed for their performances, Kraft said.

The band hall at 14 N. Third St. is owned by the City of Pottsville, which charges the band $1 a year to rent it, according to Horvath.

The band has "between 30 and 45" regularly performing members, Horvath, who plays in the percussion session, said.

"Lately, I've been playing mostly snare drum," he said.

While the Third Brigade Band has several loyal sponsors who make annual donations, the band must raise funds to continue to operate, Horvath said.

"If you are interested in hosting a performance by the Third Brigade Band, or would like to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact the band at," Horvath said.

"I intend to look for grants and things like that, but a lot of grants a drying up. It's a little harder to get them. The arts grants are going away," Horvath said.

Horvath said he sees this year as "a transition year" for the band.

"We're gathering ideas and talking to people and trying to decide how can we take what we're doing to the next level," Horvath said.


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