By Andrew Wroblewski
An unprecedented concert for an unprecedented man.
On Jan. 10 at Northport High School, 600 high school and local musicians came together to celebrate the memory of the late Robert W. Krueger – a longtime Northport resident and founder of the Northport Community Band who died in September 2013 at 86 years old. The newly renovated auditorium at the high school, which was completed late last year, was rededicated in Krueger’s name as The Robert W. Krueger Center for the Performing Arts.
“Mr. Krueger’s contributions to music education, lifelong learning and pride in the community continue to resonate in Northport-East Northport,” Izzet Mergen, current director of music education for the district, said in a press release. “We are standing on the shoulders of educational giants in music education.”
Krueger, who founded the community band in 1959, led the band up until his passing. Prior to that, in 1957 he served as the district’s director of music and over 27 years led the high school’s marching band to greatness, including appearances during New York Jets halftime shows and the opening game of the 1981 World Series.
At the dedication ceremony, the Northport High School Jazz Band, Northport Community Jazz Orchestra, Northport High School Tour Choir, Northport Chorale, Northport High School Dance Program, Northport High School Symphony Orchestra, Northport Symphony Orchestra and Northport High School Symphonic Winds played with the Northport Community Band for a free concert that was open to the public.
The auditorium, Mergen said, received upgrades that: replaced all of the seats, re-carpeted the aisles, added theater lighting to the new chairs, touched up the paint on the walls and completely repainted and plastered the ceiling.
“Prior to this renovation, the ceiling pain was chipping and the seats were torn and miss matched,” he said.
A second phase to the renovation is planned to include upgrades to the theater’s lighting and sound system and other touch-ups. Mergen is hopeful the second phase, pending approval from the New York State Education Department, will begin and complete this summer.