River City Brass Band to Perform

The nationally-known River City Brass Band joins the Wheeling Park High School band and the Young Patriots choir Wednesday for a concert at the school’s J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Tickets are available for purchase at the door, said Ohio County Schools Superintendent Dianna Vargo.

Prior to the concert, Ohio County Schools will honor three individuals associated with the school district who achieved outstanding success and accomplishments in the performing arts – Stefano R. Ceo, Eleanor Steber and J. Loran Mercer.

– Ceo (1900-64) served as director of the Triadelphia High School band from 1924-59. Under his direction, the band won consecutive state championships from 1931-40, and a national championship in 1933 for marching and concert play. He founded the Wheeling Junior Symphony, and formed the first West Virginia high school all-girl concert band in 1934 at Mount de Chantal Academy. He was inducted into the Wheeling Hall of Fame in 2012.

– Steber (1916-90) was a 1934 graduate of Warwood High School who went on to achieve fame as a Metropolitan Opera star. Her performances extended to opera houses in Europe and Asia, and she appeared in 50 different leading opera roles. She appeared in more premieres at the Metropolitan Opera than any other artist. She was inducted into the Wheeling Hall of Fame in 1980 and on Saturday will be inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Charleston.

– J. Loran Mercer (1913-83) was the Warwood High School band director from 1936-64. He led the band to many regional, state and national honors, and was recognized in 1956 as one of the outstanding music directors in the nation. In 1963, he was appointed director of the West Virginia All-State Band that performed at New York City’s World’s Fair. He started the first strings program for Ohio County Schools in 1965; served as music supervisor for the district from 1964-73; was inducted into the West Virginia Music Educators Association Hall of Fame in 1994; and the Wheeling Hall of Fame in 2002.

Also on Wednesday, River City Brand Band conductor James Gourlay – also director of the instrumental music and university band at Wheeling Jesuit University – will spend time prior to the concert working with Wheeling Park music students in the classroom.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for our students to learn from the River City Brass Band program, and to perform in a venue with the River City Band,” Vargo said. “The focus will be on the students as we focus on arts in our school system.”

“The opportunity for Wheeling Park High School students to perform alongside the internationally famous River City Brass Band is a spectacular one,” added Wheeling Park band director David Alfred. “The Young Patriots, under the direction of Mrs. Leslie Garrett and Mrs. Gladys Mitch, will also set the musical stage for a Veterans Day-themed performance that I’m sure our parents and community members will enjoy.”

The event is sponsored by Ohio County Schools, the Warwood Alumni Association, Tri-State Petroleum Corp. and the families of Dr. William C. Mercer and Dr. Donald W. Mercer.

River City Brass formed in 1981 in Pittsburgh. As many as 100,000 people enjoy the band’s signature style each year, and the River City Brass Band has been called the “Boston Pops … in Brass.”

The band has released 15 recordings, and the 28-piece ensemble tours extensively throughout the United States.