It isn’t every day that the grandest band in all the land performs in one’s city.
But Middletown, Ohio, was honored to host two appearances by the spectacular John Philip Sousa Band at the elegant Sorg Opera House on the city’s Main Street. A revitalized Sorg theater continues to offer high quality entertainment to this day.
According to MidPointe Library’s Digital Archives, the band’s first Middletown visit was in January 1898. (*)
However, its return on October 3, 1919 was extra-special for local residents. A post-appearance article in the local newspaper explains why:
“Not for many years have Middletown music lovers enjoyed a rarer treat than the two concerts presented at the Sorg Opera House yesterday by the famous Sousa band,” reported the October 4, 1919, “Middletown News-Signal.” **
“A large audience greeted the afternoon performance while in the evening, the opera house was crowded to capacity and the immenent [sic] conductor, who is known personally to many in this city, was given a splendid ovation as he stepped upon the stage…” **
Among all the selections presented that magical evening, the second number in the program captivated the locals. That’s because it featured “Frank Simon, the Middletown boy, who has won the name of the leading cornetist of the United States…,” the newspaper reported.**
It continued : “...Simon was at his best and his rendition of his own composition, ‘Willow Echoes,’ was one of the biggest features of the program…He was compelled to give several encores and was presented with several bouquets, one a basket of flowers from his brother Elks [lodge members].” **
Audience members also enjoyed the talents of Miss Mary Baker, soprano, and Miss Florence Hardman, violinist. **