In May of 1951, Al Sturchio graduated from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio with a Bachelor of Music Education degree and a commission in the United States Army Reserves. He was hired in July of 1951 by the Hondo ISD superintendent to begin their first band program. Hondo had an all-girl Drum and Bugle Corp with 24 G bugles, 10 single tension wooden-rimmed snare drums and two bass drums. That was what Al had to produce pep parades through town before the football games and for the half time shows.
The first registration for the high school band produced fifty-three girls and three boys. He came to find out that all of the boys in school were expected to play football or they and their families were looked upon in a very suspicious manner.
When Al went home one Saturday to play golf, he found a telegram from the War Department which read: “You will report on or about twenty-four hundred hours on October 31st to Fort Sill Oklahoma, for active duty.” On October 18, 1952, he was wounded in action in Korea. Al spent the next two months in hospitals in Korea and Japan prior to being discharged in May of 1953. He was later awarded the Purple Heart.
In October of 1952, a fantastic band director named Bob Lewis replaced Al at Hondo High School, and as you know, Bob had many years of superior success.
From January 1953 to June 1959, Al began what became the most productive teaching years of his career at Sidney Lanier High School in San Antonio. He says that because at his first rehearsal, the band started playing the march, “Them Basses.” After the introduction and eight bars of the first strain, he stopped the band and said, “That’s the most God-awful band sound I have ever heard. Pass all that music in.” They then started on page 29 of Book One of the Victor Method, F concert whole notes. A year later, the band received a First Division at their first UIL Marching Contest.
In the summer of 1959, Al received a Master of Education degree and went to teach with his father, Frank G. Sturchio, at St. Mary’s University. For six years, he had the privilege of teaching with and learning from “Pop.”
In 1966, his career took him to South San Antonio High School as band director and Coordinator of Music for the district. The knowledge and experience he had gained in retail and wholesale band instrument sales really paid off for the district. The writing and issuing of bids for band instruments and uniforms was a part of his new job.
His next teaching position was as band director of the Theodore Roosevelt High School Band in the Northeast ISD. After one year, he became the Vice-Principal for student discipline. He recommends the job to anyone who really wants to learn, as he did, something about the other side of student life outside the band hail.
From June of 1972 until July of 1986, he had the fantastic job of Coordinator of Music for Northeast ISD until he was made the Director of Fine Arts for the district which included Visual and Performing Arts, Pep Squads, Dance Teams and Cheerleaders. During his years as Fine Arts Director for the district, he had the privilege of supporting and working with many outstanding teachers. Though there were many, Al feels compelled to name a few who were outstanding teachers in every way: John Pearson, Marion Rodman, Melvin Meads, Bill Brady, Tony Esquivel, Alfred Esquivel, Leland Sharrock, Dale Schultz, Bill Lebegern, Ed Solomon, Larry Schmidt, Ken Turner, Moddie Smith and Billy Harrell. Mrs. Jane May was his elementary and choral consultant and many times assisted the district’s band directors.
In July 1985, Al was privileged to become the Executive Secretary of the Texas Bandmasters Association. In June of 1986, he retired from teaching after thirty-four wonderful years of assisting students and teachers with their musical desires and abilities.
As Executive Secretary of TBA, he has had the opportunity to assist band directors in improving skills with the convention’s educational offerings. Working with the Board of Directors in accomplishing the purpose and goals of TBA has given him the opportunity to work with the finest people in our band world. They are and have been truly dedicated to TBA and their fellow band directors.
Al Sturchio has been a part of the San Antonio music culture for many years. His background includes conducting on tour with Johnny Carson and Jack Benny as well as trumpet playing and/or conducting for the following: Ringing Brothers Circus, Ice Capades, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Kenny Rodgers, and Grand Ole Opry during the 1968 San Antonio World’s Fair, Sonny and Cher and many, many more.
However, as much as he has accomplished, one of his greater performance satisfactions has been playing for the San Antonio Spurs for more than ten years as the “Sound of the Spurs.”
With the theme “Strike Up the Band” for the Fiesta Flambeau Parade in 1997, Al Sturchio was a natural as Grand Marshall for the spectacular night parade. This diverse musician and band director’s first love always has been directing high school bands.
In closing, Al wants to leave you with a quote from a prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi: “For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is dying that we are born to eternal life.” Most of all, he wants to thank his Lord for giving him the most beautiful and understanding wife in the world, Janice Marty Sturchio. Together they brought three beautiful and talented children into the world of music and teaching. Janice and Al met underneath the goal post on the south end of Alamo Stadium during the Battle of Flowers Thursday Night Band Festival during Fiesta Week in April 1950. This December 28th they will have been married forty-six years.