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Band gets crowd pumped in South Boston concert

Talk about the “wow” factor.  The United States Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus had that and more in a bravado performance Thursday night at Halifax County High School in front of a packed house.

On top of its game despite its final performance after 35 straight days on the road, the band and chorus enthralled the crowd throughout their two-hour concert.

The audience came to its feet several times during the concert, especially during the group’s encore, which included a rousing rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa and an emotional rendering of country music artist Toby Keith’s “American Soldier.”

Inspirational and light-hearted at times and at other times patriotic and uplifting, the band and chorus performed a wide-ranging program of music, from “Nobles of the Mystic Shrine” by John Phillip Sousa to “Southern Harmony” by Donald Grantham.

Other selections included “Italian Rhapsody” by Julie Giroux, “Valdres” by Johannes Hanssen and “Fantasy on American Folk Songs” by Dwayne Milburn.

The Field Band collaborated with Soldiers’ Chorus members Staff 
Sergeant Daniel Erbe, Staff Sergeant Jessica Coates and Sergeant First Class Mark Huseth in performing selections from “The Secret Garden” by Marsha Norman 
Lucy Simon.

Selections also performed were “Italian Rhapsody” by Julie Giroux, “Valdres” by Johannes Hanssen and “Fantasy on American Folk Songs” by Conductor Dwayne Milburn.

Staff Sgt. Wesley Ballenger III performed Derek Bourgeois’ “Concerto for Bass Trombone” during the concert, which featured an Armed Forces Salute toward the end of the show, followed by a stirring rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Gazette-Virginian Publisher Linda Shelton said Friday she was pleased with the large turnout as well as with the musicianship on display Thursday night.

“It was good to see so many members of the community come out to support an event like this,” she said.

“We knew it would be a wonderful performance, but I had no idea that it would be received as well as it was.”

Gazette Editor Paula Bryant agreed, saying, “It was really gratifying to see so many county residents come out and support the Army band’s and soldiers’ chorus’ performance.”

“We called the event the Concert for the Community, since we wanted everyone who was interested to be able to participate, and it was a great night,” Bryant added.

The stated mission of the United States Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus is “to carry into the grassroots of our country the story of our magnificent Army.”

Judging by Thursday night’s reaction, mission accomplished, and then some.