Guests and Program Announced for 2024 Annual Side-by-Side Concert

Each spring since 2005, The Allentown Band has presented an ambitious program with participation by advanced high school student musicians from high schools throughout the Lehigh Valley and surrounding area.

It is an honor for the Allentown Band to have these gifted high school musicians join Side-by-Side in concert at Allentown's historic and beautiful Miller Symphony Hall.

The Allentown Band's 2024 Side by Side Concert will be held at 4:00 PM, Sunday April 28th at Miller Symphony Hall. We are pleased to announce that Joseph Alessi, Principal Trombone with the New York Philharmonic, will be our featured soloist. The program will be conducted by Ronald Demkee and Guest Conductor Col. John R. Bourgeois (ret.) conductor emeritus of the United States Marine Band, "The President's Own." Admission is free but tickets are required. Contact Miller Symphony Hall Box Office 610.432.6716, or order online at

The full program for this concert is available here: 2024 Side-by-Side Concert Program

Our guest conductor for 2024 is Colonel John R. Bourgeois (Ret)

The career of Col. John R. Bourgeois (ret.), the 25th director of the United States Marine Band, spanned nine presidential administrations, from Eisenhower to Clinton. He retired from the Marine Corps after serving as the band’s director and as music advisor to the White House for 17 years.

Born in 1934 in Gibson, Louisiana, Col. Bourgeois attended Jesuit High School and Loyola University in New Orleans. A French hornist, he performed with the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra and New Orleans Opera Company.

He joined the Marine Corps in 1956, and he joined “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band in 1958 serving as a French hornist and staff arranger. He became director of the band in 1974, serving in that capacity until his retirement in 1996.

Under his leadership, the Marine Band presented its first overseas performances, traveling to the Netherlands, Norway, England and Ireland. In 1990, Col. Bourgeois led the band on an historic 18-day concert tour of the former Soviet Union. Col. Bourgeois directed 16 national concert tours – a tradition started by John Philip Sousa in 1891.

Since his retirement, he has enjoyed the life of a country gentleman, residing in a beautiful, historic homesite in the Virginia countryside, while continuing to be extremely active as a guest conductor and clinician. Indeed, Col Bourgeois has served as guest conductor for The Allentown Band on numerous occasions.

Our guest artist is Joseph Alessi, Principal Trombone with the New York Philharmonic.

Trombonist Joseph Alessi is an active soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. Alessi was appointed principal trombonist of the New York Philharmonic in 1985. In 1990, he made his New York Philharmonic solo debut and in 1992 premiered Christopher Rouse’s Trombone Concerto with the Philharmonic. Other premieres he has played include Melinda Wagner’s Trombone Concerto in 2007 and William Bolcom’s Trombone Concerto in 2016.
Alessi began musical studies in his native California with his father, Joseph Alessi Sr., as a high school student. He was a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony before continuing his musical training at the Curtis Institute of Music. Before joining the Philharmonic, Alessi was second trombone with the Philadelphia Orchestra for four seasons and played principal trombone with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for one season. He has performed as guest principal trombonist with the London Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, led by Pierre Boulez.

Alessi has been a guest soloist with the Lincoln, Colorado, Syracuse, Virginia, Alabama, Santa Barbara, Puerto Rico, Hartford, and South Dakota symphony orchestras; New Japan, Seoul, Hague, and Helsinki philharmonic orchestras; National Repertory Orchestra; Orchestra of Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Sicily; Mannheim National Theater Orchestra; and National Symphony of Taiwan.

He has participated in numerous festivals, including the Festivale Musica di Camera in Protogruaro, Italy; Cabrillo Music Festival; Swiss Brass Week; and Lieksa Brass Week in Finland. He was featured in the 1997 International Trombone Festival in Feldkirch, Austria, and the International Meeting of Brass Instruments in Lille, France. He is a founding member of the Summit Brass ensemble at the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute in Tempe, Ariz. In 2002, Alessi was awarded an International Trombone Association Award for his contributions to the world of trombone music and trombone playing.

Alessi, a faculty member since 1986 and Pre-College faculty since 2007, he has also given master classes throughout the world and has toured Europe extensively as a master teacher and recitalist.

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