Great-grandson of ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ composer to visit Community Arts Center

American history buffs and music buffs alike, be excited. The great-grandson of John Philip Sousa, a well-known and highly regarded American music composer and conductor, will be narrating a free musical event honoring his great-grandfather at the Community Arts Center, 7:30 p.m. April 11. He is John Philip Sousa IV.

Though he does not play music like his great-grandfather did, he will talk about, not only his great-grandfather, but also his music and the impact it had on the United States between musical numbers.

“It’s about the music being played, my great-grandfather’s life and what it is like being related to such a famous American. While there is certainly history, most is talked about with a good infusion of humor directed to the audience,” Sousa IV said.

Sousa IV has been giving lectures and narrating patriotic concerts around the country in honor of his great-grandfather for quite sometime.

“While I am still able, I am devoting most of my time to making sure that the legacy and music of Sousa goes on for many generations to come. I’m doing this by performing these narrations around the country, [writing] books, re-publishing music, [and giving] lectures on my great-grandfather, aimed at academia and the public.”

John Philip Sousa, the first, was born in 1854 and died in 1932, in Reading, Pa. He is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. He served in the Marine Corps and Navy and was a part of the Marine Band and the Navy Great Lakes Naval Station Band.

He is most famous for his American patriotic marches; he is often referred to as “The March King.” He wrote 136 marches total, starting in 1917, and continued writing them until his death.

His best-known work is “Stars and Stripes Forever,” a march that almost all American’s can identify. An act was signed by Ronald Reagan in 1987 making “Stars and Stripes Forever” the national march of the United States.

“His contributions to America and the world went way beyond music and marches. He was an incredible ambassador to the world, he brought not only superior entertainment, but gave many Americans their first taste of culture,” Sousa IV said.

The Lycoming College Concert Band will be celebrating Sousa’s music under the direction of guest conductor, Loras John Schissel, who is a conductor and curator with the Library of Congress. Additionally, Dr. William Ciabattari, assistant professor of music at Lycoming College, will perform Herbert Clarke’s “From the Shores of the Mighty Pacific” with the band, a press release said.

The band will feature not only music of John Philip Sousa, but also works from Charles Gounod, Franz von Suppe, Richard Wagner and other composers.

The concert will “be a concert loosely in the style of John Philip Sousa’s concerts, a few of which took place in Williamsport around a century ago,” a description on says.

“Often we read about important historical figures and get to know them by the stories that survive. But to see and hear someone connected to that history helps bring the history to life. Also, having guests of the caliber of John and Loras helps to bring some notoriety to our program at Lycoming,” Ciabattari said.

“They will be able to hear a great band play some wonderful music, I guarantee they won’t be able to keep their feet from tapping and their hands clapping. Second, if one loves our country, the evening will be about Americana and the contributions Sousa made to our grand and glorious country. I should add that they will also be able to enjoy one of the country’s greatest conductors, Mr. Loras Schissel,” Sousa IV said. Sousa will be available at the event to sign autographs and have photos taken and also will have copies of his book for sale. To learn more about Sousa and Sousa IV, visit