The founding of the Healdsburg Community Band interestingly began with an inquiry conversation  between  musicians, Lew Sbrana, and Larry and Judy Price.  In the winter of 1981 the Prices belonged to the Rohnert Park Community Band.  They were  in need of brass players to play Christmas carols in front of Safeway and called trumpeter and conductor of the Healdsburg High School band, Lew Sbrana, even though they did not know each other.  After introductions and agreement on the time, date and music, Lew stated rhetorically, 'I wish we had a community band', to which Judy replied, 'Why not!  Let's do it!'  So,.......

Through word of mouth, announcements in newspapers and to the Healdsburg High School band students the first rehearsal of the 20 – 30 member Healdsburg Community Band was held on a Tuesday night in January of 1982 at the old Healdsburg Junior High School with Lew Sbrana as the conductor.   Some of the first members were Larry and Judy Price on trombone, Milt Brandt and Guerdon Miller on drums, Tony Heitz on trumpet, Jason DeStefano a high school senior, on trumpet, and Doug Pile, who still is a member, on clarinet.   Lew remained as conductor for the next 4 years, eventually moving the band to Rio Lindo Academy where David Burghart conducted the group.

From 1993 to 1995 Dennis Ballard also from the Rio Lindo Academy took over the baton.   Then the band started rehearsing at the new Healdsburg Junior High School where Tim Ellis conducted the group until Lew once again took over from to 2001 to 2009.   In 2004 Burt Williams also led the band.  In 1995 the band started rehearsing in the new band room of Healdsburg High School where it still practices today.

Beginning in the fall of 2009 the band was conducted jointly by Beth Ann Turner, Gary Young, Rochelle White and Randy Masselink.  For the next two seasons Gary Young did the conducting to be followed by our current conductor, Randy Masselink, the Healdsburg High School band teacher.

We are a dedicated group always looking for new members from high school age on up to play interesting music.  Come join us!  Rehearsals are still on Tuesday evenings from 7:30 – 9:30 at the Healdsburg High School band room.

As told by Lew Sbrana to Jeff Tobes on July 11, 2014 and verified and collaborated by Larry and Judy Price on July _____, 2014



Founding Musical Director of the Healdsburg Community Band

Lew at the annual Sousa in the Plaza concert, 2007

Lew at the annual Sousa in the Plaza concert, 2007

Lew Sbrana, founding music director of the Healdsburg Community Band, was born on March 2, 1935, in San Rafael, California. At a very early age his family moved to San Francisco where he was raised.

Because his mother sang in choirs and his father appreciated many genres of music, young Lew showed promise as a brass player to his seventh grade band teacher. Hence began the journey of his life-long prowess as a trumpet player.

Following his graduation from high school, Lew enrolled in Humboldt State University, Arcata,California, as a pre-veterinarian major, but after a weak semester of chemistry and math was easily
convinced by one of his music professors to become a music major. We are all very glad of that

After graduating in June of 1956 from Humboldt State, Lew proudly joined the United States Navy in January 1957 where he was on active duty for four years. After completing Officer Candidate School at Newport, Rhode Island, he was stationed in Guam for one year, then went to the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland, where he met the love of his life, Elaine Weller. They were married on May 14, 1960, and upon leaving the service in 1961 moved back to Arcata where he did his student teaching.

Lew and Elaine decided to move south and Lew applied for a teaching job in Santa Rosa. Upon waiting for a reply he met the Superintendent of Anderson Valley School District in Boonville, California. The job description was simple: Lew would teach band and chorus at the elementary school and high school and the band was to be at every home football game and some of the basketball games. After waiting to hear from Santa Rosa, Lew decided to commit to Boonville, and the very next day Santa Rosa School District called and offered him a music position also. But, for everyone who knows Lew, a commitment is a commitment, so with no regrets, he accepted the job in Boonville, where he had a wonderful experience for two years. There was wide community support. The band bought new uniforms, played a variety of music, felt the encouragement of their teacher, and increased in size from 20 to 35 musicians.

In 1964 Lew, Elaine and their two young daughters moved to Healdsburg Union School District. Lew directed the junior and senior high school bands until retiring in 1995. The Healdsburg High School Band Room is named for him.

In the winter of 1981, along with Larry and Judy Price, the idea of a Healdsburg community band emerged. Lew began rehearsals for the Healdsburg Community Band in January 1982 of which he remained musical director through the 2008-2009 season.

Now Lew keeps busy conducting and directing the New Horizons Band for seniors at the Odd Fellows Hall in Santa Rosa. Rehearsals are every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 until 11:30 a.m. Come on by!

Interviewed by Jeff Tobes on July 11, 2014, at Lew's home in Healdsburg