By Ms. Marie Berberea (TRADOC)December 19, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla. -- From an old-fashioned handshake to social media, Warrant Officer Matthew David arranged the 77th Army Band's holiday concert to connect to the audience on a personal level Dec. 15 at McMahon Memorial Auditorium.
Those in attendance noticed right away there were no programs to thumb through while they enjoyed the festive tunes. Instead, everything they needed to know and more was part of a slideshow on stage.
"In between each of the title slides I had pictures from past Christmases of the band and even some of old Soldiers who used to be part of the unit," said David, 77th Army Band commander.
For those who still wanted to know what was coming next, David invited them to visit the band's Facebook page for the full program.
"I did it to be a little different and it was my shameless way of getting people to check our page out -- hit that Like button," said David with a chuckle, "trying to keep it in the digital age."
He said the already Army green band was a little more green having done so as it saved paper as well.
The hour and a half concert showcased the many talents of the band members as they fluidly transitioned from one ensemble to the next, moving at what David would call "combat speed." David added 1st Sgt. Kristin Barrett was extremely instrumental in keeping everything organized.
"I really liked the format used this year. I thought the flow of changing from one group to another was really good," said Kathryn Hickman, Academy of Music director.
David said his inspiration for having so many different ensembles perform was from his master's degree program at Florida State University.
"They call it the prism concert -- just like when you shine light through a prism you can see different colors and so they wanted to show off the different ensembles they had at the school of music. I wanted to do that same concept," said David.
The concert kicked off with Costello's Own playing "Pipers We Have Heard on High," and moved to the jazz ensemble who performed "Skating" and "O Tannenbaum." The brass quintet played while the ensembles were rearranging.
"One of my favorite pieces was "God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen" mixed with a 007 theme by the brass quintet, guitar and maracas," said attendee Diane Pihulic.
As the trumpets played their last note, the Latin band kept the beat going with "Santa Baby" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."
The Fires Four quartet followed with a unique version of "Twelve Days of Christmas" … (the general gave to me) and "Jangle Bells" which talked about spending money during the holidays and fighting for presents.
The first part of the program concluded with Costello's Own along with any available band member.
"Every musician who wasn't doing the curtains or the lights was in the front row playing memorized music as the pipers played "Do You Hear What I Hear," so it was an in your face kind of a deal," said David.
Towards the end of the concert the band played the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's version of "Christmas Eve Sarajevo" which was supposed to be immediately followed by an audience sing along to end the night. But, it was interrupted by a very long standing ovation.
"I was just going to say thank you for coming out and then just go right into the sing along, but I think we were up there for a good two minutes just for the applause," said David.
"It was a unique concert. I thoroughly enjoyed it and took part in the standing ovation," said Pihulic.
After it was over, band members put down their instruments and headed into the audience to meet and greet those who attended.
"It's one of those ways to give a personal feel to the audience because some of the older generations just want to have that handshake just to let us know they appreciate the concert, " said David.
The concert was sponsored by Holiday in the Park, the McMahon Auditorium Authority and the City of Lawton.