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Students, Glass City Swing Band salute Ol’ Blue Eyes with concert

Mary Pickels
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Recent participants enjoy the Glass City Swing Band Inc.’s Swingin’ with Creative Arts Therapies program.
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A Nov. 2 “Battle of the Sinatras” student showcase and Glass City Swing Band concert will benefit the band’s Swingin’ with Creative Arts Therapies program.
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Glass City Swing Band, Inc., offers a Swingin’ with Creative Arts Therapies program for youth and adults with special needs.
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Five regional high school students will kick off the entertainment during the “Battle of the Sinatras” at Greensburg Salem Middle School on Nov. 2, followed by more Sinatra music with the Glass City Swing Band.

Five local high school students will perform the music of Frank Sinatra, backed by the Glass City Swing Band, Inc. , as they compete for prizes during a 7 p.m. Nov. 2 concert, “Battle of the Sinatras,” at Greensburg Salem Middle School.

The first half of the concert will showcase the talents of students Vincent Adams and Nolan Shirey, Hempfield Area High School; Lavanya Anantheraman, Franklin Regional High School; Gianna Blawas and Alexander Podolinski, Greensburg Salem High School.

Band founders and twin sisters Jill and Joy Procida promoted the competition to students in grades nine through 12 in Westmoreland County school districts.

Three students will sing Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” two will perform “If I Had You,” and one will croon “I’ve Got the World on a String.”

Some of the students have performed in high school musicals or choirs; a few are big Sinatra fans, the women say.

Each will do an individual interpretation, however, and not simply imitate the legendary singer, they add.

Sponsor Hayden’s Pharmacy in Youngwood will provide the top three winners cash scholarship prizes, the Procidas say.

Judging the young performers will be Roderick Booker, former Westmoreland County Community College music director; Kelli Brisbane, Westmoreland Cultural Trust’s special events coordinator; and the audience.

Those attending Friday’s show can purchase votes, 10 for $5, 25 for $10, and cast them for their favorite student singers.

Glass City Swing Band, Inc. is a nonprofit working to benefit others through music by supporting its twofold mission — disabilities awareness and arts therapies, and preserving history through music, specifically that of the Swing Era, according to its website.

The Procidas both have carried limb-girdle muscular dystrophy since the age of seven. They each possess bachelor’s degrees in music and play and teach music in the local community.

The 18-piece big band, which performs mainly music of the 1930s and 1940s eras, takes its name from the city where it is based, Jeannette, often referred to as the Glass City because of its industrial heritage.

The concert will benefit the band’s Swinging’ with Creative Arts Therapies (SCAT) program, Jill Procida says.

The program for children and adults offers a collaborative expressive arts program conceptualized by band members for those with special needs including physical, intellectual and emotional disabilities. The program introduces participants to the Swing Era’s various instruments. They then can express their interpretations of swing music through workshops in music, art, and dance/movement led by certified creative arts professionals, the website states.

“We finally got (SCAT) off the ground. Clelian Heights (school) helped with the use of its facility,” Joy Procida says.

The second half of the concert will offer entertainment from the band and its featured vocalists, Todd Reagan and Caryn Dettling, with more Sinatra music.

Ed Christofano will serve as the night’s master of ceremonies.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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