Community Band to honor former director with annual Independence Day celebration

Jason Weintraub conducts the Chautauqua Community Band Concert July 4, 2022, on Bestor Plaza. Georgia Pressley/Daily File Photo

Sarah Russo
Staff Writer

The Chautauqua Community Band may only have two performances each summer, but the group is still one of the most popular shows of the season.

The band is set to perform at 12:15 p.m. today on Bestor Plaza. However, if it rains the performance will be moved to the Amphitheater. 

Aidan Chamberlain, community band director, has been involved with the group for about 20 years playing trombone. He’s been a member of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and was invited by Jason Weintraub, founder and former Community Band director, to join the group many years ago. 

To Chamberlain, Weintraub, who passed away last fall, was a warm, skilled leader and director. 

“Jason was such a community person, and that’s the thing with a community band,” Chamberlain said. “It just brings in so many different musicians from different aspects, so this is really like a point where all those different groups meet. …  It really becomes a community when it’s in that band; everyone meets at that point. And Jason kind of epitomized that. He knew so many people, he was friendly with everybody … He made everybody feel welcome.” 

Conducting in Weintraub’s footsteps is no easy task. Chamberlain said there is a high expectation as he takes over, but Weintraub created an environment that is meant to last.   

Members of the Chautauqua community gather at a memorial service for Weintraub, a 25-year member of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and the founder and longtime conductor of the Chautauqua Community Band, Sunday in the Hall of Philosophy. Brett Phelps/Staff Photographer

“It’s slightly daunting,” Chamberlain said. “I hope that I can keep up and keep everything going. It feels like there’s a legacy that needs to be continued. … It feels like I’m part of a team.” 

Traditional marches by John Phillips Sousa will be a part of the band’s program combined with more modern pieces such as selections from John Williams’ scores, Louis Armstrong’s repertoire and songs from The Lion King. Fan-favorite sing-alongs and classic American songs including “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America”  and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” will also be performed.

Deborah Sunya Moore, senior vice president and chief program officer, thinks she knows why this particular concert is so beloved.  

“ ‘Community’ is how many people first describe Chautauqua to their friends,” Moore told the Daily in 2021. “This is at the root of why we love this concert each year. It is open to all, invites professionals and amateurs to sit side by side, and serves as an invitation for all to gather around and participate in the arts with shared fun and joy.” 

Chautauquans sign a guest book at Weintraub’s memorial service. Brett Phelps/Staff Photographer

Chamberlain hopes this program will showcase the diversity and inclusion of America through its musical selections. The program includes different aspects of American music and American culture. 

“It’s all music that people know,” Chamberlain said. “They’re very popular tunes, so it’s going to resonate with a lot of people. The idea is you’ve got young and old and a wide audience, so you’re trying to appeal to everybody, but in a way that celebrates American music. There’s going to be something for everybody in there.”


The author Sarah Russo

Sarah Russo is a senior at Syracuse University studying broadcast and digital journalism. At Syracuse, she reports and hosts for CitrusTV and writes for The Daily Orange and Baked Magazine. Sarah also interned at the National Comedy Center last summer. When she’s not reporting, she enjoys being outside biking, swimming or reading. As a Chautauqua County native, Sarah is excited to work in a place close to home and her heart this summer. She will be covering the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and the Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series.