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American Legion Band of Tonawandas receive top honors

The American Legion Band of the Tonawandas was named national champions in a recent concert band contest in Baltimore which drew bands from across the country.

The American Legion Band of the Tonawandas performed in the Baltimore Convention Center at the American Legion National Concert Band Contest. The 30-minute performance drew cheers, a rousing applause and a standing ovation from the audience. The band subsequently took first place in the contest, earning the band the 2015 national championship title. An additional honor for the band was taking first place in the National Parade.

The Aug. 29 win marked the 20th national award for the band, which is currently 90 members strong and under the direction of Michael Shaw, director of music for Frontier High School.

The award-winning band is in its 86th year and has been American Legion senior band state champions almost continuously since 1947 and have been national champions 19 previous times since 1972. The band has won Canadian National Exhibition International Band Championship six times and after winning the competition an unprecedented three years in a row, the CNE permanently awarded the band its President’s Trophy.

The American Legion Band of the Tonawandas’ Post 264 was formed in 1929 by World War I veterans.

Today it is a not-for-profit corporation which performs formal concerts between September and June in area schools and theaters, including the stages of Artpark, Chautauqua Institution and the Riviera and Palace theaters. The band also performs at a number of parades throughout Western New York.

The band was selected to portray the band of John Philip Sousa for a PBS special and has performed to standing ovations throughout the world, from Sydney, Australia to Carnegie Hall in New York City.