by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
Love of country and gratitude to our military veterans resonated once again at the annual Veterans Day Concert presented Monday evening by the Elk River High School bands and director John Rosner.
“I thought the concert was pretty cool,” said Don Walentiny, who served in the Marines in the late 1960’s, and has a son, Eddie, in the band. “It’s nice to get some recognition (as a veteran).”
Patriot offerings such as the Drum and Five quintet’s the peppy “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (marching through the crowd in revolutionary war attire), the ERHS Concert Band’s “God Bless America” and the Black Elk Jazz Ensemble’s “America, the Beautiful” with stirring solos by Josh Gearou (alto sax) and Elizabeth Budahn (vocals) got things going.
After a brief intermission, emotions raised even higher. The ERHS Wind Symphony’s played “Armed Force Salute” as Rosner called on veterans of each branch
to stand and be applauded as their song (“Marines Hymm,” “Anchors Aweigh,” and so on) came up, after which Carter Schunk played “Taps” for the fallen. The North Suburban Choral, directed by Duayne Malewicki, delivered an eloquent “Battle Hymm of the Republic” with the Wind Symphony accompanying.
Something new this year: Photos of about two dozen current and former military personnel, many of them relatives of band members, were projected onto the walls with their names and information, to the solemn strains of “An American Elegy” lasting about 10 minutes.
The photos, including many deceased, evoked an emotional reaction. “When they put those pictures up, that was kind of sad,” said one 84-year-old Navy veteran, misting up. He added, “I enjoyed the evening very much.”
The closer, as always, was the concert band and wind symphony joining forces with “Stars and Stripes Forever,” which inspired the crowd to wave flags that had been handed out and clap their hands for rhythm.