More than 350 Howard Beach seniors danced to the nostalgic sounds of the big band era last Thursday evening in St. Helen’s Father Dooley Hall as band leader Frank Pedulla and the Music Staff Swing Orchestra stepped in to continue the tradition of presenting 1940s music to the community.
For 20 years, Arnie “Mig” Migliaccio, who died in June 2009 at age 87, presented the concert, but Frank Pedulla, a graduate of the Julliard School of Music in New York, has kept the tradition alive.
Pedulla has played trombone with over 50 orchestras including the Julliard Symphony and the Queens Philharmonic Orchestra.
“I am happy to carry on the tradition of our country’s original classical music – the big band music of the 30’s and 40’s which the community of Howard Beach embraces,” Pedulla said.
He began the concert with a tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces, playing Glen Miller’s “American Patrol,” followed by “Little Brown Jug,” “Marie,” “One O’clock Jump” and “Harlem Nocturne.” The band played tangos, mambos, cha-chas, merengue and swing as the enthusiastic residents danced the night away. Vocalist Linda Impanema entertained the audience with “Georgia on My Mind” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.” Pedulla ended the two-hour concert with Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
“I wanted to do something to change things back to how they were; I want this music to be recognized and go on forever,” Pedulla added. “It’s an honor to carry on Arnie Mig’s tradition through the Music Staff Swing orchestra to represent Mig’s Serenaders In Blue orchestra.”
Concert attendees enjoyed their musical trip back in time.
Lindenwood resident Ida Kubtz, whose husband was a musician, said the orchestra offered a wide variety of music for everyone. She stated her preference for Latin music.
Phyllis Dioristina of Lindenwood said she came to the concert because she enjoys the music of the ’40s. She has been coming to the Arnie Mig concerts since they began.
“The music is fantastic,” said fellow Lindenwood resident Mary Palermo who added that she began listening to the big bands on Martin Block’s ’40s radio program “Make Believe Ballroom.”
World War II veteran Tom Cottone, a young 90 years old, of Howard Beach, also likes ’40s music. He has been attending the concerts since he moved into the neighborhood 15 years ago.
The concert was sponsored by state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) along with local attorneys Brady & Marshak.
“It’s my pleasure to co-sponsor this concert each year to remember Arnie for all that he did for his community,” said Addabbo, “the man who for over 20 years brought us back to the glory days of the big band era.”