Army orchestra to rock D.C. on Veterans Day with legendary band Kansas
November 8, 2011
By Kris Osborn
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 8, 2011) -- The legendary rock band Kansas is planning to play a special Veterans Day tribute concert at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., with the U.S. Army Orchestra, Nov. 11, 2011.
"The honor is ours. We're proud to be there and proud of what they do for our country. What they do for us far surpasses anything we could ever do to repay them, but we'll give it a shot. This is the least we could do," said Kansas drummer Phil Ehart, who went on to say he is very enthusiastic about playing the special show.
The U.S. Army Orchestra, which has already been practicing Kansas songs in preparation for the concert, consists of about 55 to 60 musicians playing a range of instruments including brass, woodwinds, string instruments such as violins and percussion, said Lt. Col. John Clanton, conductor of the U.S. Army Orchestra.
"The job of the conductor is to make sure instruments play together at the right time. You give them the tempo and you have to make sure the balance is right," Clanton explained.
The U.S. Army Orchestra will learn the Kansas songs in advance of the show, and bring a melodic mixture of strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion instruments to the performance. The orchestra has a rich history of prestigious performances which include a January 2009 show at the Lincoln Memorial as part of the Inaugural activities for President Obama and an annual traveling performance called "Spirit of America," Clanton said.
The Veterans Day concert is open to veterans with a DD214 and DOD card holders.
Clanton said the teaming of the Army Orchestra and Kansas will make for an extraordinary musical combination.
"A lot of our members are Kansas fans and people who grew up listening to Kansas so they have a strong connection to them," Clanton said. "It will be a thrill to share the stage with great musicians. Anytime you get to collaborate with other great artists is a wonderful thing. We are Soldiers representing Soldiers -- and we take that very seriously, so to do this on Veterans Day is perfect."
Ehart said that Kansas, which formed in 1970 and released its first album in 1974, has been playing orchestra songs for the last 15 to 20 years.
"We have a list of songs that really lend themselves best to orchestral renditions," Ehart explained. "Carry On My Wayward Son, Point Of No Return, Dust In The Wind, Hold On [and] Fight Fire With Fire, all lend themselves well to orchestra. There will be a big wave of sound coming off that stage."
On the day of the show, Kansas will do a rehearsal with the U.S. Army Orchestra at Constitution Hall in preparation for the performance, Ehart said.
"They're such great players and it is such an honor for us to play with them, especially on Veterans Day when we will be honoring veterans. We hope a lot of military folks come out for this, as it will be unlike anything they've seen. It is going to be great. We have some musical surprises in store for the crowd as well," Ehart said with enthusiasm.
Kansas has been very involved with playing for troops since the 1980's. Throughout the years, they've played for members of the U.S. Armed Services on aircraft carriers, in Iceland, in the Philippines and at numerous European locations, Ehart said.
"We've always taken a lot of pride in entertaining the troops as it is one of our favorite things to do," Ehart explained. "This is going to cap it off in a way -- to perform with the U.S. Army Orchestra. We never thought we would have the opportunity to play with such a distinguished group."
(Kris Osborn writes for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology)