NEWBERRY, SC - On the night of Dec. 18, Chief Warrant Officer Timothy Lyden and his 208th Army Reserve Band, from Concord, N.C., played to a sellout crowd at the Newberry Opera House.This marks the fifth consecutive year that the band has performed traditional seasonal music here.This year's concert performance, however, included a new addition to the bands' repertoire. Not only did the band perform the usual holiday classics, but they also performed a selection of Russian holiday music written in 1944 by North American composer Alfred Reed, a World War II 529th Army Air Force Band veteran.To enhance the performance of the Russian holiday selections, the audience was treated to a visual accompaniment of authentic Russian scenery via a slide show presentation of photos taken by one of the band's clarinet players, Sgt. Patricia Dew.
Dew took the photographs during her trip this past summer to the Russian Federation. She has now played her fourth concert at the Newberry Opera House and looks forward to coming back every year."I love these people," said Dew. "Newberry is a very close community. The Opera House community is wonderful; they're always an appreciative audience and it's a fun time. They treat us well and I enjoy performing for them.Aca,!A?Newberry residents and visiting concertgoers from as far away as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Canada also appreciated the vocal talents of Spc. Cherry Mashue, or as her fellow bandsmen and women call her, "Mariah CherryAca,!A? due to her performance of several popular Mariah Carey holiday melodies.Aca,!A"Members of the band came up with her nickname off-the-cuff," said Lyden.
Lyden selected Mashue for the vocals for two reasons."One, she has the talent and stage presence to perform and two, she stepped up to the plate and volunteered in the midst of a busy holiday season,Aca,!A? Lyden said.Normally an oboist, Mashue said, "I usually let Mariah be Mariah, but apparently chief Lyden thinks that I'm up to par with her, so I accepted the challenge and practiced about 20 minutes daily for a month.""I practiced in the car, at work, in the showerAca,!A|. wherever I could," she said.Mashue, a second-time performer at the Newberry Opera House, echoed DewAca,!a,,cs words of praise for the Newberry community."Here, we're really appreciated; people really enjoy it," said Mashue. "They come back every year and they always tell us 'I was here last year and we just love this band' and it's really nice to feel appreciated."Following in the traditions of years past, the audience was guided on a magical music tour of seasonal sounds by the band director's wife, Katrina Lyden. Her narration of the evening's performance culminated with her introducing each branch of military service and inviting former service members and their families to stand at the playing of their respective service songs. Her husband evoked emotions in the audience by saluting each former and current member of the armed forces in a gesture of gratitude and seasonal goodwill to men and women in uniform.After the concert, Newberry resident Charlie Gold, said, "I thought they were better this year than last year and I really liked the way they did the last song, Aca,!EoeGod Bless America.Aca,!a,,c"Gold's date for the evening, Carolyn Wicker, took it a step farther when she said, "I love this band, and I love it when they play Aca,!EoeT'was The Night Before Christmas.Aca,!a,,c We came last year, we'll come next year, and we'll come again every year I'm able. I wouldn't miss this for the world."The 208th Army Reserves BandAca,!a,,cs holiday performance at the Newberry Opera House brought the holiday spirit to the tight-knit community. The performance put on by the proud men and women in uniform upheld a years-long tradition in the area. Judging from comments by audience members both young and old, the bandAca,!a,,cs performance will be eagerly awaited for years to come.