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Please tell us about New Orleans music teacher Michael Cupero

Blake Pontchartrain: N.O. Know It All

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Hey Blake,

Please tell us about New Orleans music teacher Michael Cupero.


Dear Alienwolf,

  Michael Cupero was a talented musician, composer and band director in New Orleans. He was born in Naples, Italy, in 1886 and moved to the U.S. as a child.

  His impressive career started early. When he was 14, Cupero performed as a cornet soloist for American bandmaster John Philip Sousa, and from 1903 to 1906 he traveled the world performing with Italian band director Giuseppe Creatore.

  Cupero later moved to Canada and joined the British Guards' Band as a concert soloist and assistant director. He settled in New Orleans after marrying Orleana Handy, with whom he had three children. She died in 1924, and Cupero later married Helen Tamburo.

  His career in the Crescent City included first trumpeter in the Saenger Theatre's orchestra and director of band and orchestra at Warren Easton High School. He later was an instructor at Jesuit High School, music director of the school band and wrote Jesuit's alma mater in 1931. Cupero also was director of the New Orleans Police Band and a mentor and teacher to local jazz trumpeter Al Hirt, who performed in the Junior Police Band at age 6 and studied music at Jesuit High School. Later, Cupero was a professor and director of the band at Loyola University, for which he wrote the alma mater "Carry On." He also directed two music studios and composed "Pontifical March," which he dedicated to Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel.

  Cupero died in New Orleans in 1947. His grandson, Hamil Cupero, established The Professor Michael Cupero Memorial Award to honor Jesuit students who have band leadership qualities.


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