Traditional Circus Bandmasters

January 14, 2021 11:00AM – Circus Bandmasters roles explored by Charlie Bertini, former Bandmaster of Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Circus.

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Charlie Bertini Shares The Road to a Career Under the Big Top

Charlie Bertini (WJU #188) brings it home with details of his career and rise to Bandmaster of the Greatest Show on Earth. More than 60 WJU Members intently listened to and engaged with Charlie, reliving his adventures, good and bad, as a circus musician.

Delivering a fascinating view from his first-hand experience, Charlie took us on the journey that began right out of high school and continued until his retirement from the Circus. Now in the Orlando FL area, he teaches, offers private lessons, and trains Disney-bound performers.

Life on the road was far from a treat, apparently housing musicians in a truck trailer was less than fun. Charlie traced his steps joining Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. circus band under the direction of Chuck Schlarbaum (WJU #61, dec.) where Chuck eventually became Bandmaster. Note the music stands with “CB”… (Charlie Bertini or Clyde Beatty?)

We were thrilled that Jim Buttolph (WJU #3284) and Gene Nichols (WJU #3989, First of May) who played with Bertini at CB participated in the session and others at the 2021 Virtual Convention. Charlie went on to lead the RBBBC in the late 1980s and Gene took over at CB. Welcome to WJU, Gene!

Thanks Charlie for the outstanding presentation and sharing of your experiences!

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About Don George 24 Articles
Don (WJU #3911) is an Editor and Contributor at MYWJU.ORG. Don led WJU's 2019 strategic planning effort, and was instrumental in launching new website, emedia and marketing initiatives. Don was a professional musician, played several instruments and arranged scores.