Holiday concert brings cheer to Fort Rucker
December 20, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (December 20, 2012) -- Hundreds of people flocked to the post theater Dec. 13 to enjoy holiday classics played by Fort Rucker's own 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band during the Commanding General's Holiday Concert.
The concert featured music played by the Army Bands different music performance teams: the Concert Band; Crossfire, the rock band; the Blackout Brass Band; and the Wiregrass Jazz Ensemble.
Audience members were welcomed by Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, who kicked off the evening of music and holiday cheer.
"I can tell you, you're all in for a treat," he said to the crowd. "Everywhere I've been in the last few weeks, I've either seen the band out playing in parades across the Wiregrass or hearing about them playing in other concerts, and the community has been abuzz about what they've done, how they've done it, and the beautiful music and pageantry that they've brought this holiday season."
The band played music selections ranging from "Silver Bells" and "Santa Baby" to "Mele Kalikimaka" and the Trans Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Eve in Sarajevo," which was a crowd favorite for many.
"The Army Band's version of 'Christmas Eve in Sarajevo' was absolutely stunning," said Joseph Troy, civilian. "I was amazed at how well they performed that song because it is a really, really powerful piece of music -- I had goose bumps the whole time."
Goose bumps weren't the only things that were raised -- the music seemed to raise spirits as well.
"I really enjoyed [the concert] and it was nice to be able to come out here and get into the holiday spirit with some really good music," said Brenda Smith, civilian. "I had pretty high expectations before we came out, but I didn't expect it to be as good as it was -- I was floored by the performances."
Smith came to the concert from Dothan with her husband, Kevin, and two children, Jackson and Summer.
"It was great to be able to bring the children out to experience something like this," said Kevin. "I know they are young right now, but getting to listen to this kind of holiday music at a young age helps create memories.
"I know whenever I heard a lot of the music that they played, it was really nostalgic and it takes me back," he said. "You can't really get into the holiday spirit without some good music like this, and that's what they gave us tonight -- good holiday music."
Throughout the concert, the band also performed short skits such as one involving the band's leader, CW4 Jesse Pascua, 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band commander, in which the trombone players were one man short of their quintet.
During the skit, the trombone players asked Pascua if he had brought his trombone and if he would be able to join them. Pascua acted as if he was a bit rusty on his trombone before the quintet began to play, but joined in seamlessly to provide a top-notch performance.
The Army Band worked tirelessly over the past couple months to make sure that the evening went on without a hitch, according to Pascua.
"The preparation [for the concert] began about two months before the concert with trying to get all of the music together and thinking of ideas for the performance," he said. "After all of the planning, it was all about getting the program put together and finding time for rehearsals."
Although this is set to be Pascua's last CG's Holiday Concert on Fort Rucker, he said that he feels the performance was a success.
"It's all worth it when you get the audience participation like we did," he said. "We always get worked up when we see a large crowd. We just wanted to entertain people and sing along to some of the songs with us."
The Smiths said they were plenty entertained and they were glad that Fort Rucker was able to provide such an experience for their Family to enjoy.
"I think it's wonderful that Fort Rucker can put on concerts like this for the local community," said Brenda. "Living in a smaller community, there isn't much opportunity to see things like this, but this gives me and my Family a chance to enjoy something that really isn't available anywhere else, and for that we're thankful."