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GVWE founder and conductor performed baritone sax in band that won national award Saturday

By Billie Owens

Submitted photos and press release:

INDIANAPOLIS -- The American Legion 2019 National Concert Band Contest was held Saturday (Aug. 24) in Indianapolis, Ind., top honors went to the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas.

Bands from around the country competed in 2019, the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.

Of the 80 members in the Tonawanda-based band, 60 competed in Indianapolis, including one man from Batavia -- Philip Briatico. He is the founder and conductor of the Genesee Valley Wind Ensemble and he plays baratone saxophone in the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas.

The band had the top score -- 95.8.

Other top bands were: Second Place -- Joliet American Legion Band from Joliet, Ill., with 93.5 points; Third Place -- Oconomowoc American Legion Band from Oconomowoc, Wis., with 88.5 points; Fourth Place -- Kansas City American Legion Band from Kansas City, Mo., with 88.3 points; and Fifth Place -- American Legion Post #377 Band from Kenner, La., with 82.3 points.

Selections performed by the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas were:

TITLE                                                                                      COMPOSER

Esprit de Corps----------------------------------------------------------Robert Jager

The Gallant 7th March--------------------------------------------------John Philip Sousa

Ballet Sacra--------------------------------------------------------------David R. Holsinger

After an intense week of preparation, the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas performed in the Indianapolis Convention Center. Their 30-minute performance drew cheers, a rousing applause and a standing ovation from the audience.

The Band performed under Music Director Michael Shaw.

Now in its 90th year, the Band is celebrating its 22nd National Championship.

About the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas

It was formed in 1929 by World War I veterans and Post #264 members. The band (currently 80 members at full strength) draws its membership from a broad cross-section of Western New Yorkers. The members have diverse occupations and backgrounds including management, engineering, business, medicine, government, sales, and industry.

A large number are instrumental music educators, or graduates or students of university music programs. Membership is open to all musicians based upon placement evaluation and section vacancies. None of the musicians are compensated.

The Band has and always will stand ready to aid in any worthwhile community function and to uphold the great tradition of the American Legion.

Top photo, American Legion 2019 National Concert Band Contest First Place Award was presented by the American Legion National Commander, Brett Reistad, shown in the middle, and given to Conductor Michael Shaw, far left. American Legion Band of the Tonawandas President David Abrahamian is pictured right.

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