Volume LIVAugust 2007Number 3

H. Stanley Goodwin Lodge
Continues "Living" Heritage of
Brother John Philip Sousa
by Andrew A. Zellers-Frederick, Executive Director, The Masonic Library and Museum of PA

H. Stanley Goodwin Lodge No. 648, Bethlehem, commemorated their Centennial Anniversary in 2006 by bringing together the Masonic community of friends, family and brethren and hosting a concert of the music of Brother John Philip Sousa. The concert was performed by the Liberty High School (LHS) alumni band under the direction of Ronald Sherry.

Continuing the success of the 2006 Sousa concert, the lodge hosted a similar Sousa concert on Feb. 18, 2007, in the lodge grand hall. The concert was offered gratis to the brethren, friends and families of the lodge, as well as the general community of Bethlehem. This year's concert was highlighted by a once-only occurrence: Ronald Sherry had the distinct honor of conducting the LHS alumni band with the actual baton used by Bro. Sousa himself while conducting his last rehearsal in Reading, Pa., on March 6, 1932. The last piece Bro. Sousa conducted was "The Stars and Stripes Forever," the official U.S. march, which he wrote and first conducted on Dec. 25, 1896.

After the rehearsal, Bro. Sousa retired to the Abraham Lincoln Hotel, where he died. According to information provided by Bro. Mark Filbert, P.M., his baton was found that day by a band member and was given to his daughter, Maryanne Werner of Reading, Pa. Later, the baton was given to her friend, Shannon Sunday, who, with a performing musical background herself, has kept the baton until it was used to conduct this year's Sousa concert, 75 years after his death.

With the continuing success of the Sousa concert, Bro. Jack Fliter, W.M., and the brethren are now considering making this concert an annual event.

Bro. Sousa, known as the "March King," ranks among the most famous American composers and conductors, having written 136 marches, as well as operettas, waltzes and hundreds of other pieces. He also was the inventor of the sousaphone.

Born in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 6, 1854, Sousa began studying music around age 6, including voice, violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone and alto horn. His father enlisted him in the Marines at age 13 as an apprentice after he attempted to run away to join a circus band.

Bro. Sousa began composing in 1872 and in 1875, was discharged from the Marines. He began performing on violin, touring and eventually conducting theater orchestras and on Broadway. In September 1880, he returned to Washington to assume leadership of the U.S. Marine Band, a post he held until 1892, when he left to form his own band. The first Sousa Band concert was performed on Sept. 26, 1892, at Stillman Music Hall in Plainfield, N.J.

After three European tours, Bro. Sousa's band became the first American musical organization to go on world tour in 1910, traveling more than a million miles and performing for more than a million people including performances in New York, Great Britain, Canary Islands, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Hawaii and Canada. The band even had its own baseball team.

During World War I, Bro. Sousa joined the U.S. Naval Reserve at age 62. Assigned the rank of lieutenant, he was paid a salary of $1 per month. After the war, Sousa continued to tour with his band. He was an advocate for the cause of music education and fought for composers' rights, testifying before Congress in 1927 and 1928.

Bro. Sousa was raised to the degree of a Master Mason in Hiram Lodge No. 10, Washington, D.C., on Nov. 18, 1881. He was also a member of Eureka Royal Arch Chapter No. 4; Columbia Commandery No. 2; and Almas Shrine, all in Washington, D.C.

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