Army Field Band, Soldiers’ Chorus return to Civic Center this Saturday

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

The United States Army Field Band of Washington, D.C., and the Soliders' Chorus, the premier touring musical representative for the U.S. Army, will be returning Saturday, March 10, to Hopkins County Regional Civic Center.

U.S. Army Field Band Photo

The Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus will be in concert Saturday, March 10, at the Civic Center.

The concert is free and will begin at 3 p.m.  at the Civic Center. Although tickets are not required, they are encouraged. Those with tickets will be seated first, starting around 2:30 p.m. General admission seating will be just prior to the start of the concert.

Tickets are available at Star Country radio station, 930 Gilmer St., or by calling 903-885-1546 during regular business hours. Special arrangements can be made for  youth and church groups, Scout troops, civic clubs and other groups by calling the number above as far in advance as possible. 

�The Field Band's roots reach back to the Army's First Combat Infantry Division Band, which was established in 1944 and staffed by World War II combat veterans. It was also known as "The Million Dollar Band" after its tours helped sell more than $1 million in war bonds.

In 1945 Gen. Jacob Devers issued an order to form a special Army band, and after recruiting talented musicians and vocalists the Army Ground Forces Band officially came into existence in 1946.

When the U.S. Army Ground Forces were redesignated the U.S. Army Field Forces in 1950, the band was renamed the U.S. Army Field Band.

The Soldiers' Chorus, founded in 1957, and field band have performed across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, India, the Far East, throughout Europe, at the Kennedy Center Honors Program, the 750th anniversary of Berlin and the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, and with the Boston Pops, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops.

Both groups are made up of active duty service men and women; some have been in combat, some have served in other units, some overseas, and some very decorated. 

"They're very competitive. It's hard to get in to," said Star Country's Dave Kirkpatrick, who retired in the early 1990s from the Field Band after 23 years in the French horn section and is in part responsible for helping get the Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus to play in Sulphur Springs next Saturday. "Virtually all are graduates of nationally established colleges and universities. A large percentage of them have graduate degrees, and some doctorals. We're very fortunate to get them."

Col. Finley R. Hamilton has been the commander and conductor of the Army Field Band since March of 1999. The deputy commander and associate conductor is Lt. Col. Beth T.M. Cole, appointed in July 2005. 1st Lt. Daniel Toven has been the associate band master since September 2004. 

The 65-member concert band and 29-member Soldiers' Chorus present a diverse program of marches, overtures, popular music, patriotic selections, and instrumental and vocal solos. Of course, both rely on their conductors and support crews which include everything from sound technicians and stage technicians to drivers. 

This year's performance features a little bit of something for everyone.

"If they're expecting a straight military program, they'll get some of that, but it's not just standard military program," Kirkpatrick said. "They'll be playing all kinds of music, from classical to pop and patriotic. It's definitely designed to appeal to a wide-range audience."

The program will, of course, include traditional standards such as the "Air Force Salute," "Stars and Stripes Forever," "God Bless America" and "God Bless the U.S.A." For the younger generation and those who enjoy John Williams, the concert include a feature on "Star Wars."

For more information about the Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus, including rosters, biographies on the members, the program and a sample of their sound, go to www.armyfieldband.com.

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