Strike Up The Band

A long-time Warren County band director is back in the area and will conduct the District Band festivities being held at Youngsville High School.

Harris Lanzel, who served as band director for 31 years at Eisenhower High School before retiring in 1999, will be the guest conductor. A surprise reception was held for him in the Youngsville Elementary Middle School library on Wednesday evening, but because his flight to Erie was delayed twice, he went directly to Youngsville High School to begin rehearsals.

Cindy Scheid, YHS band director, said that part of the surprise was the attendance of 50 former students who studied music under Lanzel. When he didn’t show at the reception, they quietly filed into the YHS auditorium where he was rehearsing. They stood silently in the orchestra pit in front of the stage and waited for him to notice.

Finally, someone coughed.

“I broke up,” he said. “I didn’t expect to see 50-some former students. It brought back a lot of good memories.”

As for new memories, he said, “I’m having a ball. These (District Band) students are so well prepared.”

Lanzel, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University in Illinois, currently lives in Florida and serves as the music director and conductor of the Naples Concert Band.

He said the Naples band plays eight concerts a year, and he has to fly out Saturday for a concert scheduled for Sunday.

Lanzel added the concert band is composed of professional musicians, former band directors and “fine hobbyists.”

“During his 31 years at Eisenhower, Mr. Lanzel’s concert, jazz, and marching bands have consistently earned superior ratings at state contests and festivals,” according to the band’s website. “Lanzel is past president of District 2 Pennsylvania Music Educators Association and past president of Nu chapter, Phi Beta Mu Bandmasters Fraternity. During his teaching career Mr. Lanzel has been honored with many awards. He was also recognized as the Outstanding Pennsylvania Bandmaster of the Year by Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity. In addition, he was presented with a Citation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania House of Representatives for achievements ‘that have brought distinction to themselves, their community and state.'”

His music education days didn’t stop with his retirement from Eisenhower as he has also taught instrumental music at Gulf View Middle School, and has worked with the instrumental music programs at East Naples Middle School, St. Ann School, the Village School and Barron Collier High School.