By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 30, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The season for giving is upon the Wiregrass and Fort Rucker offers up the gift of music to help people get into the holiday spirit with the Commanding General's Holiday Concert Dec. 11.
This year's concert, "Holiday Classics," will be from 7-8 p.m. at the post theater and will feature the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band's entire ensemble, to include Soldiers from Fort Benning, Georgia, and the Fort Rucker detachment, said Capt. Aaron Morris, Maneuver Center of Excellence band commander.
The concert is free and open to the public, and throughout the evening of music, people will be able to enjoy a mixture of classic holiday music from traditional productions, such as, "Sleigh Ride," "The First Noel," and "What Child is This," as well as more contemporary pop hits, like "This Christmas," and Bruce Springsteen's version of "Santa Clause is Coming to Town."
The band's entire ensemble of 40 members consists of 26 wind instruments, with the rest comprised of percussion and supporting cast, which Morris said is sure to keep people rocking in their seats.
"(The concert) will be a mix of classical and pop music, so we'll have a lot of (crowd) favorites in there for people to enjoy," he said.
The night will also feature a reading of the classic "Twas the Night Before Christmas," by Devon Sellers, WTVY nightly co-anchor, as well as a planned surprise guest visit from the North Pole, said the band commander.
"We put out a message to the North Pole to see if we can get Santa there and I have a feeling we may end up with a positive response, so people may be able to look for that," he said.
Although the concert has become a holiday tradition on post, preparation for the night begins well before the holiday season to help ensure the best show possible, said Morris.
"We started our first rehearsal going back in the end of October, and the program was finalized and conceptualized in mid-September," he said, adding that since the band is split between the main ensemble at Fort Benning and the detachment here on post, coordinating rehearsals can be difficult.
"We are here at Fort Benning and we have the detachment band of 10 Soldiers down there at Fort Rucker, and those Soldiers were also incorporated in this performance, so trying to coordinate the training times where we could all get together to work on the music has been a challenge in and of itself," said the band commander. "It's a completely inclusive performance opportunity for the whole unit that we've been working for."
Throughout the coordination process, input from Soldiers was taken and the theme was provided by Morris, and once the theme was set, the brainstorming sessions began until the program evolved into what people will experience during show time, the captain said.
But despite all the hours of rehearsal and preparation, the night is about making sure the community gets a holiday experience they won't soon forget, said the band commander.
"We're an outreach, too, for the (commanding general) and we see our responsibility as helping the CG build a cohesive team inside the Fort Rucker military community, and also with its civilian partners in the area," he said. "These events are a great opportunity for all of us to come together and enjoy each other's company in celebration of something we all hold dear, so, for us, it is a really meaningful occasion."
Morris added that this will be the last holiday concert for Fort Rucker that will include a detachment from the installation as the MCOE Fort Rucker Detachment will deactivate next year.
"We may, in the future, be able to come down, but there won't be any organic Fort Rucker Aviation Center of Excellence Soldiers as a part of that event," he said. "So, this is kind of the last hurrah when it comes to holiday concerts."
Those who do not possess Department of Defense identification cards are reminded that they must obtain a gate access pass to enter the installation. Visitors may obtain passes from the visitor control centers at the Daleville and Ozark gates. The Daleville VCC is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Sundays. The Ozark VCC is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.