William Weikert has been the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas Music Director and Conductor since 1985. Mr. Weikert holds Bachelors and Masters degrees from the Ithaca College School of
Music, where he studied tuba and conducting with Walter Beeler.
Mr. Weikert taught in the Maryvale School System from 1967 to 2000, where his high school wind ensemble had a 6A rating for 15 consecutive years at New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) competition festivals. From 1981-1985 he served as President of the Board of Directors for the Erie County Music Educators Association. He also served as the Western New York Zone Representative for NYSSMA from 1985-1988.
In 1996, Mr. Weikert received the New York State Band Directors Association "Outstanding Band Director" award as well as the Buffalo Philharmonic/Erie County Music Educators "Outstanding Music Educator" award. While he has been with the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas, they have won a Gold Medal in International Competition in Sydney, Australia and 14 American Legion National Championships.
Mr. Weikert decided to retire from conducting the Band in 2008, after a very successful 24 year run. He and his wife Dyan will be doing some traveling, enjoying their grandchildren, and now have time to be more active in their church.
Dr. Michael D. Nascimben, a member of the Tonawanda's Post 264 Band since 1962, has served as conductor and has appeared as saxophone soloist on numerous occasions. Nascimben holds a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Music Education from SUNY at Fredonia, a Master’s of Music in Wind Instruments and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Saxophone Performance from the University of Michigan. He studied saxophone with William C. Willett, Sigurd Rascher and Larry Teal, and was a Teaching Assistant to Dr.William D. Revelli in the University of Michigan Band Program.
He has been a music educator in western New York for 26 years and has been a member of MENC since 1962 and a NYSSMA adjudicator for the last 21 years. Previously, he taught at the University of Texas at Austin, SUNY at Buffalo and Buffalo State College. He performs regularly with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and has appeared with numerous symphony orchestras throughout the United States.
He is a founding member of the West Point Saxophone Quartet, the Amherst Saxophone Quartet and the Da Capo Saxophones. Concert appearances include Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, The Kennedy Center and The Tonight Show. Nascimben is an active arranger with over 200 transcriptions for saxophone quartet and has recorded with MCA, Musical Heritage and Mark Records.
Herbert Ludwig was hired to be the Musical Director on December 18, 1957and continued in this position until his death on July 18, 1984. It was under his leadership that the band finally realized it's dream of becoming the National Championship Band in Chicago, 1972.
A native of New England, Herb studied at Boston University under George Mager and studied and performed with Joseph Wagner and Arthur Fiedler. In 1937, he began teaching in the Wilson, Barker, Gasport, and Akron schools. He also performed as solo cornetist with the Carborundum Band.
During World War II, he served at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, as director of the Second I.R.T.C. Band and later as director of the United States Army First Armored Division Band in Europe. Mr. Ludwig's Barker Central School Band maintained a New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) 6A + rating for 28 consecutive years.
Milton Shetler was hired as Music Director of the Post Band in 1955. He is a.graduate of Eastman School of Music and the Conservatory of Music, Paris, France. He also directed the Tonawanda High School Band. Our band attended the national competition in Miami in 1955.
During the 1956 football season, our Post Band played for all of Tonawanda High School's games. This was due to the fact that Mr. Shetler's school was on double sessions and were unable to prepare for them. Milt resigned from directing our band on September 11, 1957. He left us with a piece composed for the band, "Post 264 Concert Fanfare".
Frazier Eggert conducted the band for approximately one year, during the time John Krestic was director. Mr. Krestic took a leave to return to school. Frazier played trumpet in our band for 19 years. He was a graduate of Eastman School of Music and received a Master's degree from Ithaca College.
John Krestic was named Musical Director on January 14, 1948. During his seven years as director, the band continued to win the State Championship. They also went to National Competition in Miami, October 14, 1948 and Los Angeles in 1950. In LA, even though their uniforms never arrived, the band placed third.
Walter Koch became Band Director late in 1946. Under his direction the band, for the first time, became the New York State Champs in 1947, in competition held in Niagara Falls. This good news was met with shouts of joy. These shouts were soon a murmur as Walter Koch, the man who had taken them to this height, was stricken with a heart attack on the field as they were announcing the fact that the band had taken first place.
Stanley Cyran was hired as the first Band Director on March 3, 1930 fresh out of the Army Band. He was a big man and a powerful trumpet player. He could direct with his right hand while playing trumpet with his left hand. Stanley directed the band at their first concert, held on May 7, 1930 at North Tonawanda High School.
John Surra was the first instructor for the newly formed band. He was a representative for McClellan Music House and also the music teacher for Tonawanda Senior and Junior High Schools. He gave group lessons to band members, teaching them simple marches, preparing them for the street after practicing all winter.
Band minutes show that all the band instruments were purchased from McClellan's for $4,000.
The American Legion
"Band of the Tonawandas"
P.O. Box 122
Tonawanda, NY 14150