When Joe Bello was in elementary school, he saw a euphonium demonstration and was hooked.
“I just fell in love with the sound and decided what’s what I wanted to do,” says the 36-year-old Naperville, Ill. native, who started playing at age 8.
It’s been a rich life for the most part. Since 1998 he’s played with the United States Air Force Concert Band. He’s retiring in August.
And a concert Saturday night with the Capital Pride Symphonic Band, which he’s conducted for the past six years, is his swan song with that group.
Their program, dubbed “Dances!,” is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Columbia Heights Education Campus Auditorium (3101 16th St., N.W.) and will feature everything from polka and tango to what Bello calls “slower, lyrical-type pieces” and more. Tickets are $20 ($10 for students/seniors; 12 and under free with an adult). Details are at dcdd.org.
Bello has been in Washington for 16 years and lives in the Navy Yard section of town. He plans to move to Chicago in August to enter a doctoral program at Northwestern University. He hopes eventually to be a university band director.
Bello is single and enjoys triathlon training, cycling, wine, friends and traveling in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out when I was 16 in high school back in 1994. The hardest person to tell was my mother.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Describe your dream wedding.
I would have a small chamber orchestra playing some of my favorite classical music on the beach or somewhere near water.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Hmm — not into politics.
What historical outcome would you change?
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Realizing Ricky Martin was gay!
On what do you insist?
That music education continues to be taught in schools and to advocate for the importance of symphony orchestras in our country.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
My last Facebook post was about the Air Force approving my early retirement.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Gay and Reckless”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Stay just the way I am.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in spirituality and that our souls will migrate to something or someone else.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Stay strong and committed.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
The man of my dreams, oh and a bag of spicy potato chips.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Sexual preference in the bedroom.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
The opportunity to solo with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on television when I was 16.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That people are not always as they seem from the outside.
I wanted to play my instrument professionally, and the military bands are the only place I’m able to do that.