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Repasz to celebrate retirement of legacy leader of 47 years

With a colorful musical career nearing half a century , Albert J. Nacinovich, of the Repasz Band, will be retiring after 47 years.

He will transfer leadership of the band at the annual Winter Holiday Concert tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Community Art Center.

Though Nacinovich, the longest-standing director, will be returning to guest direct for the Spring Concert, many members of the band took time to reminisce on their experience in the band under his direction over the years as he passes the “baton” onto the next director, to be named at the concert.

The band is made up of a range of members of all ages and coming from the local surrounding areas – some even two hours away, according to Jeffrey Dent, associate director.

Cheyenne Greene, a student at Pennsylvania College of Technology, plays the baritone saxophone and has been a member of the band for four years.

“It’s sad to see him go,” she said. “The band has been around for a long time … the 1800s. If it wasn’t for Repasz, I wouldn’t be in a band anymore. He, Al, is a staple of this concert and of this community altogether. Congratulations to him for being a part of it for so long. I know how much the band means to him.”

Joseph Smith II, the president and a trumpet player with Repasz, has been a member for about 20 years.

“This is probably the most special concert that we have had in 30 years because Al is retiring,” Smith said. “The majority of the band knows no other. He (Al) is the band.”

He added that the music within the concert came together almost effortlessly and that locals should come to see this and Al “pass the baton”.

“It’s been a privilege,” he said. “When he (Al), announced his retirement, there were a lot of emotions. We all just love the guy.”

Mike Mitchell, band percussionist, has been a part of the band for around 20 years.

“It’s been a wonderful 20 years playing under Al’s direction,” he said. “I have learned a lot from him. I haven’t played since junior high and I started playing again and I have learned a lot from how he directs.”

Linda Kibbe, librarian, got involved with the Repasz band in 1970 when she was in high school, still under the direction of Nacinovich.

“He’s a fabulous director,” she said. “He is always teaching, but in a kind and gentle way. During intermission, we will have a presentation of photos throughout the years. We are a big family. We are sad to see him go, but we are happy to celebrate.”

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