Memories old and new are what keep Bill Kuzma coming back each year to direct the Burbank Burroughs Alumni Band in Burbank On Parade.
A 1965 graduate of Burbank High School, Kuzma was the band director at his alma mater from 1970 to 1980. He also was with the Burbank Police Boys Band and later Burbank Police Youth Band as a member, drum major, assistant director from about 1963 and then became director in 1971.
He remained director from 1971 to 1979.
One of his favorite memories as drum major of the Police Boys Band was the year they participated in a parade to determine the Southern California Youth Band Championship in Lynwood.
“When I went on stage for the award ceremony I was told that we had won the Music Sweepstakes Award for being the best band and named champion. It was our first of many six-foot musical sweepstakes trophies,” he said.
A memory that stands out for Kuzma as director happened during the tour to Europe taken by the Burbank High School Band and Drill Team. They were performing an outdoor concert on the Fourth of July in Kufstein, Austria, at the base of a bluff that had a castle at the top.
“I invited children in the audience to come direct the ‘Stars and Stripes Forever,’ by Sousa and our sousaphone player had tears coming down his face because of the emotion of the moment –playing such a historic American classic in a foreign country,” he said. “At the end of the concert, as the sun was setting into darkness, there was organ music blasting from the castle a la Dracula.”
The memories come flooding back when he returns every year to direct the band in the community parade. The best part is seeing the friends he has made over the years, he said.
“I truly enjoy seeing people who have had music in their background come back and perform again whether or not they have kept up on their instrument. Being in a band or related performing group like drill team, color guard, flag team and banner carriers makes one part of a select family — almost like having ‘circus blood’ in your veins.
“It’s fun to perform (after a very short rehearsal) and catch up with people who you knew as young adults and see how and what they’re doing now as adults. Recapturing memories and making new ones!”