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Band brings back Jeannette's Glass City moniker, swing music

| Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, 12:00 p.m.
Jill and Joy Procida, graduates of Jeannette High School and Seton Hill University, are the managers of the Glass City Swing Band. Both women perform with the band and have a love of swing music.
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Jill and Joy Procida, graduates of Jeannette High School and Seton Hill University, are the managers of the Glass City Swing Band. Both women perform with the band and have a love of swing music.
Gloria Christofano and Todd Reagan prepare to performe with the Glass City Swing Band.
Gloria Christofano and Todd Reagan prepare to performe with the Glass City Swing Band.

The Glass City Swing Band has been performing together since 2007.

Founding members and twins Jill and Joy Procida are the band managers and also lifelong Jeannette residents.

“Obviously, we named the band after the old glass industry in Jeannette,” said Jill Procida.

The original members also played in the Jeannette Community Band and today, while most members are from Jeannette and the surrounding areas, some travel to play with the group.

The band plays strictly swing music, which was popular when the glass factories were at their height in the 1930s and 1940s. The band has 16 instrumentalists and a male and a female vocalist.

“If you look at the 1930s and 1940s, we are the same size as the Glen Miller Orchestra and Benny Goodman's band who were both popular back then,” said Joy Procida.

Over the years, band members have changed and the group has perfected its sound.

“Right now, this is the best combination of talent we've had,” said Joy Procida.

“We have moved so far from the beginning,” said Jill Procida.

According to Jill Procida, swing music was born out of Benny Goodman's style in the late 1930s and has its roots in jazz. Swing was at its height during World War II and many of the troops overseas were entertained by the likes of Goodman, Duke Ellington and Glen Miller.

The women want to see this love of swing music not only preserved, but passed on to new generations of music lovers.

Unlike some orchestras and ensembles, swing bands have vocal accompaniment and the Glass City Swing Band is no different.

Gloria Christofano and Todd Reagan provide the vocals for the band. Both have bachelor's degrees in music.

Christofano has performed with the Mendelssohn Choir in Pittsburgh, the Westmoreland Symphony and directed the Diocesan Choir in Greensburg. Reagan was a cabaret singer for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and also had roles in the movies “Mischief” and “The Jesse Owens Story.”

“In addition to singing, the vocalists also front the band. While we are getting our breath they entertain the audience and get them involved,” said Jill Procida.

The Procidas, are also accomplished musicians. They were brought up in a household of music — their father Anthony Procida was an accomplished musician. From the time they were very young, the girls listened to all kinds of music, they said.

The women attended Seton Hill University and have degrees in music performance. They have performed for more than 25 years with the Westmoreland Symphonic Winds in addition to being involved with several other local symphonic groups and theaters.

Jill Procida is on the community music division staff at Seton Hill and maintains a music studio at home. She plays the saxophone for Glass City.

Joy Procida has provided music instruction at both Greensburg Salem and Hempfield high schools and works as a medical transcriptionist. She plays the trumpet.

The band plays at various events throughout the year.

Last summer, Glass City played in Palm Court at the Omni William Penn for a benefit function for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

“It was exciting because both Benny Goodman and Glen Miller played there. It was very nostalgic,” said Christofano.

The band has played at the Ligonier Ice Festival, the Glass Festival in Mt. Pleasant and plays during the summer concert schedule in Ligonier. On Monday, they played at Phipps Conservatory in Oakland for the Winter Flower Show.

Donations can be made to the band by contacting the Procidas either through the Glass City Swing Band's Facebook page or the band's website at http://glasscityswingband.com.

Margie Stanislaw is a contributing writer.

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