Mr. Charles Barone, Leader of the Band
When the subject turns to music education, many still remember a man who was a Lockport landmark, who greatly influenced the field of music throughout the region. Mr. Charles R. Barone will long be remembered as an excellent band director, composer and much more.
Mr. Barone was born in Palermo, Sicily in 1883. His family came to America in 1901, first settling near Fredonia. In his youth, he studied music with the LaScalla Opera in Milan. His musical abilities grew with his years and he became an accomplished instrumentalist. Upon moving to Lockport, Mr. Barone organized his first local band in Lowertown. Only a few students could play instruments, but through his tireless promotion, a band of 40 was soon playing their premiere concert at the Hodge Opera House, as a benefit for St. Joseph’s Church. Other concerts were given at the Temple Theater, a fine music hall on Walnut Street (across from the Tuscarora Inn.)
Around 1919, public schools began programs to teach music and Mr. Barone was hired to start a band. With only twelve original students, under Barone’s tutelage, the Lockport High School instrumental music program grew to comprise some of the largest and finest bands, ensembles and orchestras in the state. His students remarked that Barone was demanding and focused, yet all of the students held him in the highest regard.
Over his years at the Lockport High School, Mr. Barone took many musical groups to state and national competitions. Most times, his groups placed first or in the top two or three. The tremendous influence of Mr. Barone in the lives of his students is perhaps of equal importance as any lasting musical abilities imparted. Some of his students did go on to musical greatness, but most just felt lucky to have counted Mr. Barone as one of their very best teachers. After an amazing 31 year “gig” with the Lockport Schools, Mr. Barone retired in June 1951.
Douglas Farley, Director
Ann Marie Linnabery
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094