And the band plays on
Michael Mackey, who was the Little Green Machine’s director for eight years, leads the alumni band during a recent practice.
Deana Carpenter / For The Almanac
Former Little Green Machine director Clem Rolin directs the South Fayette alumni band at practice.
Deana Carpenter / For The Almanac
The South Fayette High School Festival of Bands tomorrow will feature a special performance to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Little Green Machine marching band. The South Fayette alumni band will mark its debut performance.
The alumni band is composed of about 70 former South Fayette High School graduates from 1957 to 2012. The band has been getting together for weekly practices for about a month.
“This is the one and only performance,” said Ryan Wolf, president of the Alumni Band Association. He said the band probably won’t perform again for another five years.
The alumni band will perform under the direction of two former South Fayette High School band directors: Michael Mackey and Clem Rolin, who are South Fayette alumni. Co-director Michael Mackey was the band’s director for eight years and is the grandson of the late Dominic Scacchitti, the founder and first director of the Little Green Machine.
Mackey graduated from South Fayette in 2000 and lives in Mt. Lebanon. He’s a doctoral teaching fellow at the University of Pittsburgh and music director at Holy Child School in Bridgeville. Mackey said he had “double involvement” with the band as both a student and director. He added that it’s great “to have all of these eras” represented in the alumni band.
“Clem was a student of my grandfather’s,” Mackey said, and Rolin was his director. He added, “The crazy thing is being here with students of my grandfather’s, my students and my peers.”
Rolin graduated from South Fayette in 1964 and lives in North Fayette. He is a professional jazz artist and music director of the West Hills Symphonic Band. He joked that the goal of the band’s first performance is to “get started and end together and provide some entertainment.”
Christine Autrey of South Fayette is a member of the alumni band and was head majorette when she was in school. The band holds a special place in her heart Scacchitti is her dad and Mackey is her nephew.
“It’s wonderful,” she said of the experience. She said that when she was in school, the band was under the direction of John Testa, who was the second director of the band and was there for 32 years.
“The South Fayette band always felt like family,” she said, adding that Testa was “like a second father” to me.
Testa’s daughter, Connie Testa, of Pleasant Hills, is the only member of the band not to have graduated from South Fayette. Testa, an alumnus of Canon-McMillan High School, was asked to be an honorary member of the band since her father did so much for the Little Green Machine.
“It’s truly an honor,” Testa said of being in the band. “I’ve made so many friends. It’s brought back a flood of warm memories.” Testa, who plays the glockenspiel, said, “It’s been great working with these people.”
Alumni band member Jodi Flack of Collier Township graduated from South Fayette in 1979. She said she wanted to be a part of the band “because band was such an integral part of my high school years.”
Flack, who plays the French horn, said being in the band “brings back a lot of great memories.” She added, “It’s just fun.”
South Fayette’s Festival of Bands will begin at 7 p.m. at the high school stadium. High school bands scheduled to appear include Avella, Cornell, Fort Cherry, Mt. Lebanon, North Hills, Pittsburgh Obama Academy, Quaker Valley, Riverview and South Fayette. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. Tickets will be sold at the gate. More information can be found by visiting www.southfayette.org or calling 412-221-4542.