Geneseo grad debuts with Guy Lombardo's band

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic

The golden age of Big Band may be in the past, but Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians still encourages listeners to relive those days.  

At an appearance at the Lake Depue Pro National Championship Boat Races, the Guy Lombardo band appeared Wednesday July 28 to kick off the weekend festivities.  Geneseo graduate Jacob Loitz debuted with the band, on baritone sax and clarinet.  Loitz is the son of Julie and John Loitz of Geneseo.  

Loitz will be a junior at Augustana College in the fall.  He is majoring in Music Education.  He hopes to be able to teach on a college level upon completion of his education, as well as continue to perform.  Currently he is proficient on the saxophone and clarinet, and recently has added the french horn, cello and trumpet to his accomplishments.  Next semester he intends to add percussion. 

"Whenever I get the chance to participate in historical bands like that one, I always feel very accomplished and happy not just for myself, but for all the musicians that came before me that helped pave the way for this type of music." Loitz remarked about the experience. "I was welcomed and encouraged by everyone in the band and the audience to become a part of this rich culture, and that’s just the greatest thing about music. Regardless of wealth, race, religion, social standing, or anything in that wide range of identifying qualities, as musicians and audience members, none of those things will change the fact that we are there to love and be loved, using the power of music." 

Terry Smith,of East Moline who has instructed Loitz on the sax for years, is a regular in the Guy Lombardo band, and got the position in the July 28 performance offered to Loitz.  

Jacob Loitz of Geneseo recently got to perform with Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians, whose performance history began in the 1940's during the golden age of Big Bands.

The Big Band legend, has been under the direction of Al Pierson, a Depue native who had been an orchestra director since before he undertook the Guy Lombardo Royal Canadians in 1989.  Pierson, 89, still tours with the Guy Lombardo Royal Canadians, and returns to his hometown annually to play Lombardo hits like "Auld Lang Syne" "New York New York" and "Enjoy Yourself".