Mario DeSantis has serenaded
countless just-marrieds, celebrated the induction of Cal Ripken Jr.
into the Baseball Hall of Fame, served as a one-term mayor of Solvay,
tickled the ivories as “The Magic Piano” for more than
20 years on the local children’s TV series Magic Toy Shop and
raised five children with his wife of 59 years, Anita. Despite all
that, the keyboard player and longtime bandleader is perhaps best
known for the musical legacy he continues to leave Syracuse in the
form of the DeSantis Orchestra.
Maria DeSantis, Mario's eldest child, took the reins of the band of
renown and it's obvious she learned well as an apprentice to her father.
Her influence has been pivotal to what the orchestra is today. She’s
worked to incorporate a youthful edge, bringing in more contemporary
music, funk, rhythm’n’blues and client-picked songs. Family
is also her primary focus. She exudes energy and excitement for what
the group does and her undisguised adoration of the band is endearing.
Mario DeSantis continues to perform alongside the various incarnations
of the DeSantis Orchestra, and helps Maria run the business, even
though she officially bought the business 20 years ago.
The orchestra members’ ability to be flexible and perform between
small groups to a full orchestra, depending on the event, is key.
At times, Maria will send out only a pianist and singer, while at
others, a group of 15. Sometimes, she’ll send both.
Their summer schedule will find them busy, playing events including
the Finger Lakes Festival on June 24, a Solvay Geddes concert on June
28 and, interestingly, a concert commemorating the 65th anniversary
of Armory Square on Aug. 11. The orchestra also performs annual concerts
including the summertime Candlelight Series in Armory Square and a
Christmas-themed show each December. See the
full schedule here.
Adapted from the cover story
"Father Knows Best" written by Jessica Novak and published
as the cover story in The Syracuse New Times May 15th 2012 edition.
here to read the story in it's entirety.