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THE UNITED STATES ARMY FIELD BAND
 FORT MEADE, MARYLAND -

Students Join Army Band in Concert

By Andrea Lovejoy
LaGrange News

News story photo
Photo credit: LaGrange News
Chief Warrant Officer Fred Catchings of Fort Benning serves as guest conductor as the U.S. Army Field Band performs ‘American Salute’ by Morton Gould. A veteran of two tours in Iraq, Catchings is commander of the U.S. Army Infantry Center Band.
From poignant Korean folk songs to soaring Sousa marches, African-American spirituals to a Yale-trained clarinetist performing a Bach fugue, the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus lived up to its billing as the Army’s “musical ambassadors” Monday in a two-hour concert at First Baptist Church on the Square.

The performers, all Army personnel and professionally trained musicians, shared the stage with local high school band members performing John Philip Sousa’s “Washington Post” march.

“It was a great experience,” said LaGrange High School senior Joshua Bolden, who plans to study music at Valdosta State and hopes to join a military band someday.

Local band directors described the evening as filled with pride and joy.

“Our students have never had the opportunity to play with a band of that quality. It inspires them to see how good you can become with practice. It motivates them to be better players,” said Donald Koon, band director at Callaway High School.

Johnny Hurd, his counterpart at Troup High, said the students were excited and all did well, although they had less than a month to work on the music and no opportunity for rehearsal with the military performers.

“I didn’t hear a bad note the whole night,” Hurd said.

Crowd favorites at the well-attended concert sponsored by LaGrange Downtown Development Authority, First Baptist Church and LaGrange Daily News, in-cluding patriotic numbers, vocals and solos by the Soldiers Chorus and an armed forces salute recognizing those in the crowd who served in uniform.

LaGrange High junior Rohan Gupta, a trumpeter, said he realized he was having a once-in-a-lifetime op-portunity - and a challenge.

“I knew they would be good, but I didn’t realize how good,” he said. “When I hear someone better than me, it really pushes me to get better. I want to match their sound.”

Angelyn Traylor, also a LaGrange High band member, echoed that.

“It was really neat to play with some of the best musicians in the world,” she said.

High schoolers performing with the field band included Spencer Mason, Aynsley Thompson, Tori Hart, Rebekah Arnold and Brittany Jennings of Troup High; Kathy Reich, Tyler Arrington and Dexter Mara-ble of Callaway High; and Traylor, Bolden, Gupta and Edell Brewer of LaGrange High.

David Traylor, a LaGrange High counselor who heard his daughter perform with the group, said it was a great honor.

“I’m a very patriotic person and that made it especially important to me,” he said.

The audience seemed to agree, rising to its feet time and again, clapping in time to the marches and singing along on “America the Beautiful” and the closing “God Bless America.”

The LaGrange visit was part of a five-week tour the Washington, D.C.-based field band began Feb. 29. It performed Sunday in Montgomery, Ala., and is in Norcross tonight. It will be at least three years before the band returns to this area.

Andrea Lovejoy can be reached at editor@ lagrangenews.com or at (706) 884-7311, Ext. 237.

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