Veterans Day Salute

November 11, 2010 at 10:56 am | Posted in Repertoire/Programming | 1 Comment
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Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11th in the United States, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended WWI. On this day, we honor our military troops, both current and former. While parades and other celebrations take place, there are some excellent pieces that are programmatic in nature and very appropriate for a concert to honor these military men and women.

1) Lonely Beach (Normandy,1944) – “James Barnes was inspired by film footage that recorded the assault on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. In the film, four soldiers are seen attempting to reach the relative safety of the sea wall. Three of the soldiers reach the wall, while the fourth is hit and falls, unmoving. Although surrounded by thousands, he dies alone. The first part of the tone poem begins with the sound of wind and waves. As the assault begins, the music builds to a frenzy, portraying panic and the death of the soldier. The second half is a eulogy for all the soldiers who died on that beach. Composed in 1992, the work was commissioned by the United States Army Band in Washington, D.C. Its premiere performance was on November 11, 1992, Veteran’s Day.” – via

This piece uses alleatoric music to very impactfully demonstrate the scene of Normandy Beach. Watch the video below to listen to the recording as done by the UIndy Symphonic Wind Ensemble circa 2004…

2) American Salute by Morton Gould – This piece was originally written for orchestra, and later transcribed for band. It is something that should be in the standard repertoire of any high school or college band program. Based on the theme of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” as it’s melodic material, Gould essentially weaves a fantasy setting on this melody. It was written in 1943, and according to another blog post I came across, was written for a radio broadcast (and supposedly, overnight!) It is a powerful musical setting, techinically challenging, and a great piece for both students playing it, and for the audience listening.

3)  Each Time You Tell Their Story by Sam Hazo – This piece is another programmatic piece in that is was clearly written to honor our military men and women. It starts as a ballad, has a short narration, grows in intensity to a powerful chorale style section, and ending quietly. Technically, it is not too challenging and allows for some nice musical moments.

4) Star Bangled Banner (A Love Song to Our Country) by Jack Stamp – This is a hymn-like treatment of the Star Spangled Banner. Jack Stamp actually wrote this piece in grad school, and some 13 years later it was brought back to the band world after 9-11. There are different harmonies present at times, and it captures an entirely different emotion than the version we are all used to hearing, but it is entirely still appropriate. This would make an amazing concert opener.

5. America the Beautiful arr. by Carmen Dragon – No Veterans Day concert would be complete without playing Carmen Dragon’s America the Beautiful. This is a very beautiful arrangement of the song many people consider our nation’s second national anthem. This music also has optional choir parts to include your school choir to make an even more powerful concert closer.

So, if you are thinking about doing a program for Veterans Day, these are just a small sample of good music that can both be challenging and musically satisfying for your students, the audience, and an appropriate tribute to our Veterans. Thank you for all you do!


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  1. Thanks for posting this. One of my favorite memories of an Indiana Wind Symphony concert was the one on which we performed Lonely Beach. We followed it with Mark Camphouse’s wonderful tone poem inspired by the American cemetery at Normandy and the two pieces created a wonderful sense of the moment, the sacrifice and the pride with which we hold the memory of all those who gave the last full measure.

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