Band supports America with patriotic music

Conductors hope that U.S. theme will draw higher attendance.

The Varsity Band is trading in their holiday red and green for the more patriotic red, white and blue for its free concert called Songs of America at 7:30 p.m. today in Emens Auditorium.

Generally, at this time of year the Varsity Band is getting ready for their end of the semester concert, which usually contains Christmas music and other more general pieces like Ball State's fight song. This year due to the tragedy of Sept. 11, Joseph Scagnoli, the director of bands decided that a patriotic themed concert would be in order. The decision was made in mid-October.

"We are trying to show our support for America," said associate conductor Christian Zembower. "We are taking a stand to show that we are the strongest nation in the world."

The band and the conductors are hopeful that the attendance will be higher then most other years.

"The attendance to these concerts isn't that bad," said Zembower. "We usually get about 500-700 people.

"I truly believe that the change to a topic that is so close to our hearts should draw more people in. We may loose a few people that usually come to hear the Christmas music, but most people want to hear the patriotic music. We do believe that there will be an older crowd at this concert, because those are the people who are the veterans and the most patriotic."

The students have mixed emotions about the change in format. Some people are upset because no Christmas tunes are going to be included, said Zembower.

"Obviously you have to be un-American not to like these songs and the subject area, so the majority agree with the decision that was made," he said. " I think that most of them enjoy doing it."

Each piece was hand-picked by Scagnoli and the other conductors. Included in the concert will be an arrangement for Irving Berlin songs, an armed forces salute and a variation on the song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."

The band will be doing a lot of marching songs like "The Stars and Strips Forever" and "Semper Fidelis." Featured soloist Myles Ogea who is a Ball State Alumnus will be singing "God Bless the USA" along with the band. The concert will end with "America the Beautiful."

"Some of these tunes are very emotional and make you feel a sense of pride," said Zembower. "In the arrangement of "The Star Spangled Banner" I am conducting, there is a moment that just sends chills down my spine. When a 200-piece ensemble is playing at full force and with the emotion that tune this has-- it's breath-taking.

"We are hopeful that at the end of the concert and with the very last note the audience hears, they will get an overwhelming sense of pride in America. If they don't, we didn't do our job."


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