Ronald Demkee, Adult Band Conductor

Adult Band Conductor, 2017

Ronald Demkee joined The Allentown Band in 1964 as the featured tuba soloist and was elected conductor in 1977. Under his direction, the band has recorded thirty volumes of the highly acclaimed "Our Band Heritage" series, which have reached listeners in all fifty states and twenty-three foreign countries. These recordings are now available in CD and digital format from Naxos, i-Tunes and Amazon.  The Allentown Band, America's oldest civilian concert band has been in existence since 1828 and averages forty-five performances each year. Under Demkee's leadership, the band has taken three trips to Europe for concerts in Switzerland and Austria. In addition to conducting numerous high school honor bands and orchestras, Mr. Demkee has served as guest conductor for the Army Band, Army Field Band, Military Academy Band at West Point, Navy Band, Coast Guard Band, Marine Band, Air Force Heritage of America Band, and the Air Force Band. Furthermore, he served as Assistant Conductor for Leonard B. Smith’s famous Detroit Concert Band where he conducted the band for Mr. Smith’s cornet solos in live performances as well as the highly praised “Gems of the Concert Band” recordings.

Mr. Demkee has been the Associate Conductor of The Allentown Symphony Orchestra since 1983 where he has worked with conductors Donald Voorhees, William Smith and Diane Wittry. From 1983 to 1994 he conducted all of the orchestra's Young Peoples Concerts, Pops Concerts and Holiday Concerts. He has conducted performances of "The Nutcracker" for the Berkshire Ballet (MA), the American Ballet Repertory Co. (Princeton, NJ.), the Lehigh Valley Ballet (PA) and the Repertory Ballet Company of Allentown. He has led the ASO in Subscription Concert performances featuring internationally famous artists including: Rudolf Firkusny, Cecile Licad, Robert McDuffie, Young Uck Kim and Joyce Castle of the New York Metropolitan Opera. Demkee also serves as Pops Conductor for the Allentown Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Demkee earned his Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Music Education at West Chester (Pennsylvania) University. In 1991 Muhlenberg College awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Music. He conducted the Freedom High School (Bethlehem, Pa) Patriot Band, Orchestra and numerous other instrumental ensembles, where he was also Chairman of the Fine Arts Department, from the time the school opened in 1967 until 1997. During his tenure at Freedom High School the Patriot Band performed in the nation's most visible parades including The King Orange Jamboree, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Aloha Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, two National Cherry Blossom Parades in Washington D.C. and three Tournaments of Roses in Pasadena, California. After teaching in the public schools for thirty-two years, Demkee continued to teach in the music departments of both Muhlenberg and Moravian Colleges for another eighteen years, culminating with fifty years of teaching from the elementary to collegiate levels.

Mr. Demkee is the recipient of several awards including: The National Band Association's "Citation of Excellence," The John Philip Sousa Foundation's "Sudler Legion of Honor," and The Allentown (Pennsylvania) “Arts Ovation Award” for Outstanding Achievements in the Performing Arts. In 2005 the Allentown Arts Council presented its first Lifetime Achievement Award to Demkee. He is an inductee of the “National High School Band Directors’ Hall of Fame” and has been a member of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association since 1986. He serves on the Advisory Boards of both the National High School Band Directors’ Hall of Fame and the Association of Concert Bands.

When not conducting the orchestra, Mr. Demkee plays Principal Tuba in the Allentown Symphony Orchestra. He and his wife Joan, who have been married since 1967, have two children, Mark and Elizabeth, both public school teachers, and four grandchildren Aidan, Sarah, Katherine, and Rose.

Michael Craner

Student Band Conductor, 2017


Michael Craner has been directing concert bands and jazz ensembles in addition to keeping an active professional performing schedule in NY's Capital region for the past 20 years. Mr. Craner is an accomplished double-bassist and electric bassist who has studied and performed with the likes of Ron Carter, Cecil McBee, Victor Wooten, Jerry Bergonzi, John McNeil, Kevin Mahogany and George Russell. Craner is currently the bassist in the house band at the Hudson River Music Hall and Strand Theatre in Hudson Falls, NY as well as the bassist for Better Off Led (Led Zeppelin tribute). In addition, Mr. Craner is a professional conductor who studied under Frank Battisti, William Drury, Dr. Julie Pretzat and Dr. Jerry Exline. Craner is currently the Music Director for the Lake George Community Band.  Mr. Craner is also currently the Director of both the Symphonic Band and Schuylerville Jazz Ensemble at Schuylerville Central Schools. He has conducted numerous All-County Ensembles including the Central Adirondack Schools High School All-County Band, Rensselear County All-County Jazz Ensemble, Saratoga Warren County All-County Jazz Ensemble, Washington County Symphonic Band and the Fulton County All-County Symphonic Band. In addition, Craner has been an adjunct faculty member at RPI in Troy, NY where he directed the RPI Jazz Ensemble. Mr. Craner holds a M.M. in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory of Music and a B.A. in Music Performance from the State University of New York College at Oswego.

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