GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Fifty-seven years ago, Frank Incaprera picked up a baton and began leading the Galveston Beach Band.
The Galveston County Daily News reports since that day in 1962, there have been 11 U.S. presidents and 14 mayors of Galveston. Two people have played Han Solo, three Astros have been Cy Young Award winners and 12 men have walked on the moon.
But, in all that time, there has been only one conductor of the Galveston Beach Band.
That will remain true for another few weeks, as Incaprera, 95, is set to conduct his final concerts and settle into retirement.
“I’ve been working since I was 12 years old,” Incaprera recently said. “I’m going to finish the year. It’s time to quit.”
The Galveston Beach Band has performed summer concerts in Galveston since 1928. Incaprera’s father helped found the group, which has been known by different names over the years, and brought his son into the fold to help keep it alive.
Incaprera was working as a session musician and as the host of local TV show “Teen Hideaway” on KHOU, when he got the call to help Galveston and succeed the band’s original conductor, Felix Stella, who had died and left the band leaderless.
“It’s part of me,” Incaprera said. “Music has been part of me all my life.”
In the years since, the concert venue has moved from its original spot in Menard Park to its current home at the Sealy Pavilion at Moody Northern Plaza, 900 24th St., but Incaprera has stayed and made it his own.
Incaprera’s summer music set is heavy on the patriotic tunes such as “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” It also includes strong participation from young people. He invites local dance companies and martial arts studios to perform, and he has young people in the audience march around waving U.S. flags during parts of the concerts.
Barbara Sanderson, city’s executive director of community outreach, first met Incaprera when she danced with her friends in one of the concerts as a child, she said. She grew up going to the concerts, as did her own children, she said.
Today, Sanderson is in charge of helping the city plan the concert series. The contract for the show is put out for bid every three years, she said. Each time it’s up for renewal, Incaprera has been there to sign up his band.
“It’s been a wonderful program,” she said. “I think he’s gotten out and sold it to the community and visitors. We have many visitors that come into Galveston and go to the summer band concert.”
There are plans for the summer concert series after Incaprera is gone. The group will be taken over by assistant band director Robert Gray, who himself has been with the band for 45 years.
“Frank has his own style, and no one is going to duplicate it,” Gray said.
The Galveston Beach Band performs, weather permitting, at 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday through Aug. 13.
Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, http://www.galvnews.com