By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)May 10, 2017
Fort Leonard Wood's own 399th Army Band has been hard at work preparing for a joint concert with the St. Louis Symphony and U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Powell Hall in St. Louis.
This is the first time all three musical groups will be performing on stage together, said 399th Army Band director, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Benjamin McMillan.
"To my knowledge, no Army band has undergone a joint concert effort with a world-renowned symphony orchestra," he said. "The St. Louis Symphony is one of the premiere orchestras in the world and for an Army band to have the opportunity to share the stage with an organization of that caliber, (its) possibly a once in a lifetime type of thing."
Plans for the joint concert began in November following a joint training opportunity with the symphony and Soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood. McMillan called the experience "gratifying for both organizations." That feeling generated an interest in fostering a long-term relationship for not only more training opportunities, but the chance to perform together as well.
Having Scott Air Force Base and their Band of Mid-America so close, it made sense to McMillan and the symphony to reach out to make this event even bigger.
"We're talking about a musical project that is a perfect musical depiction of how our country operates militarily," McMillan said.
The concert will feature patriotic works including, "America the Beautiful," "Lincoln Portrait," "Stars and Stripes Forever," and more.
In addition to the opportunity to perform with the symphony and the Band of Mid-America, the 399th Army Band hopes it will generate interest and provide for more community outreach opportunities in the greater St. Louis area, McMillan said.
"There are so many benefits of this type of concert. Not just having organizations work together to foster a relationship with one another, but to branch out into the St. Louis community to foster the support of our citizens and promote national interests at home and abroad," McMillan said, referencing the band's mission.
Sgt. 1st Class James Cipriano, a tuba player for the 399th Army Band, added the increased awareness of what the Army and the Army band has to offer will be beneficial as they branch out into the St. Louis area more.
"It would be great if this can turn into an annual gala," Cipriano said.
Seating for the free concert is limited, and as of May 1, less than 800 tickets were available.
For more information, or to reserve seats, visit the 399th Army Band Facebook page at www.facebook.com/399thArmyBand or www.stlsymphony.org.