Bandmaster in the Sousa Tradition!
Loras John Schissel is the music director and conductor of both the Virginia Grand Military Band and the Cleveland Orchestra’s Blossom Festival Band, two of the finest bands of their type in the world. Mr. Schissel has traveled throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, conducting orchestras, bands, and choral ensembles in a broad range of musical styles and varied programs.
As a composer and orchestrator, Mr. Schissel has created an extensive catalogue of over 400 works for orchestra, symphonic wind band, and jazz ensemble. His musical score for the PBS special, Bill Moyers: America’s First River, The Hudson, televised in 2002, received extensive coverage and acclaim. As a recording artist, Mr. Schissel has amassed a large discography in a wide variety of ensembles and musical genres.
In honor of September 11th, the Virginia Grand Military Band was invited to play a special memorial concert in the Library’s historic Coolidge Auditorium. The first wind-band to be so-honored.
Mr. Schissel has appeared in the award-winning PBS documentary "If You Knew Sousa" for the American Experience series, as well as Ben Wattenberg’s Think Tank. He continues to serve as commentator on the Voice of America and for the U.S. Information Service. Schissel is an honorary member of the prestigious Circumnavigators Club and an honorary conductor of the historic Ringgold Band (the last band conducted by John Philip Sousa). Mr. Schissel has recently been recognized and honored with induction and membership in the American Bandmasters Association.
Col. Jere W. Fridy, USAF ret., Assistant Conductor, VGMB
Col. Fridy is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, where he was solo cornetist and president of the famed Penn State Blue Band. Fridy served as solo cornetist with the 553rd Air Force Band, the ANG Band of the Mid Atlantic. In 1976, he assumed command of the band. Under his direction, the band developed into one of the finest concert bands in the reserve forces and toured extensively. The band received the coveted Eagle Award and the Air Force Meritorious Service Award for its outstanding tour performances.
In 1986, Col. Fridy received the Outstanding Bandmaster Award from the International Bandmasters Fraternity, Phi Beta Mu, Nu chapter. He is also the associate conductor of the New Holland Band in New Holland, PA, and conductor of the Band Camp for Adult Musicians at Allegheny College.