Sturz, however, serves as the orchestra's singer and pianist, a role that has put her out front and made her very recognizable in the public eye.
For many senior citizens, the orchestra has become a central part of their lives and a nostalgic connection to a musical past largely ignored by modern media. It also helps that members of the orchestra are also senior citizens who happened to be accomplished musicians with years of playing on the stage.
"It helps to have played with other musicians," Sturz said.
Many musicians without such experience, who have played only solo previously, need to learn how to play in an ensemble. Some do - such as the orchestra's accordion player, Joe Bawiec, who learned his craft because he loved music.
Some, of course, don't learn, and move on after a time.
"When I came, Charlie Oliver was leader," she said. "When Charlie became ill, I became leader."
Sturz started with the orchestra as a singer, although she had had plenty of experience as a pianist over the years. She describes herself as a jazz pianist, not one who plays note for note.
"I don't play the same thing twice the same way, but it sounds okay," she said.
Toilet tempted fate
Sturz became the pianist when the orchestra's pianist stepped out to use the toilet and she was asked to fill in.
"When he came back and heard me, he left and never came back," she said.
Sturz grew up with music. Her mother always had a piano in the house. And even as Sturz made plans to attend dental school, she played music. Her mother provided her with piano lessons for a few years.
"But I didn't practice, so they stopped," she said.
While she had degrees in everything from American literature to biology, she ended up teaching high school English
She grew up in Brooklyn and arrived in Bayonne in 1982 when she married Mel Sturz, a local insurance agent.
She has performed most of her life in one way or another, and once had a duet called the June and Judy Show.
A piano teacher at the Adult School helped inspire June when she got to Bayonne, giving her tough assignments, encouraging her to play.
Standards back in vogue
People like Rod Stewart has put the orchestra's material back in vogue since his recent album drew from the same source called The Great American Songbook.
This is an informal name to describe a period of popular music that took place between the 1930s and 1950s that many consider the peak of writing for popular music. This includes people like Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart, and Duke Ellington. The songs usually feature strong melodies, well-thought out lyrics and sophisticated rhythms.
While singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett have exclusively drawn from this material, Rod Stewart and Michael Feinstein have recently recorded these as well, reviving for another generation many of these classic tunes. Picking tunes often depends on the audience, Sturz said, although this can include a mix of Polish, Italian and Irish songs to tunes popular during the Big Band Era.
Sturz said the Orchestra recently added Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender."
Seeking new members
Each Tuesday, the orchestra practices in space donated to them at the Bayonne Office on Aging on East Fifth Street.
"They give us a rehearsal area, although we bought the piano ourselves," Sturz said.
Rehearsals run from about 9 to 10:30 a.m.
Membership declined over the last year from 10 to six, which is - she said - the unfortunate nature of a senior orchestra, people move elsewhere, become ill, even pass away.
"We lost some valuable people," Sturz said. "Bennie Farina moved to Florida."
The orchestra is looking for new people, and would love to get a bass player and another piano and perhaps more brass.
The orchestra is seeking members, people who can read music or as Sturz puts it, have a good ear and can pick up things.
Most recently, the orchestra performed at The Mayor's Barbeque at the 56th Street Senior Center, but books gigs many months in advance, such as the Exxon retiree's dinner scheduled for Sept. 14 at the Hi Hat.
"They meet twice a year, and they are our best customer," she said.
Even into 2006But she even has a booking for April 22, 2006 in the Bayonne Public Library.
"We played there a couple of times, and we bring their biggest audience," she said.
The orchestra's biggest time is in December when they have eight or nine performances.
What the orchestra charges depends upon the organization. The barbeque they did free of charge. They also did the Bayonne Medical Center's now defunct senior center free as along as the seniors got to see the performance free.
But they need to charge sometimes in order to have cash to cover the cost of equipment.
Show times vary, too, although the orchestra shies away from doing shows that are four yours long.
"Three hours is more than long enough," Sturz said, though they will perform four hours if they get a free meal and breaks.
The library show is usually about two hours.
Each member of the orchestra performs a vital role. Some set up equipment, others set up arrangements, and others do booking. Each member brings a varied background.
Larry Gusick, for instance, worked with musical groups over the years, but also kept his day job. Stan Zielenski operated a group of taverns. Tom Cappadona, who is the one member who lives out of town in nearby Jersey City, moonlights as an extra for movies and TV shows. Sturz also mentioned the wonderful rhtymn section lead by drummer Frank Di Donato.
"We all love to play and we all want to play," she said. "We have fun together. What's the point of doing this if we can't have fun?"