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Army Concert Band to perform at Harpers Ferry

June 11, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

The mountains will be alive with the sounds of music Saturday, June 14, as the U.S. Army Concert Band performs at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park - barring rain.

The free concert is the second of the season. Master Sgt. Bob Powers, a euphonium player with the 65-piece ensemble, says he's looking forward to the performance, which is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the park's Cavalier Heights Visitors Center.

"It's gorgeous there," he says. "We always have a great crowd."

The concert series, in its seventh year, is a joint effort of the Harpers Ferry/Bolivar District Veterans Association and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, says retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert W. Parker, the event coordinator.

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A group of area veterans and local people had the idea for the Music in the Mountains program a few years ago, he says. It has grown from one or two performances in the first couple of years to four or five. This year the U.S. Navy's Sea Chanters will perform Saturday, Aug. 9; the U.S. Marine Corps' 10-member Free Country Band will play Saturday, Sept. 6.

Despite less than perfect weather up to a short time before the season's first concert on May 24, Parker says, 1,500 to 2,000 people came to hear the U.S. Marine Corps Band.

Members of the veterans association greet concertgoers with programs and little American flags. Selections include military and patriotic music, but civilian tunes also are presented. Saturday's program will include "Grandfather's Clock" and "New York, New York."

Powers has been playing euphonium since seventh grade. He chose the instrument that he compares to a small tuba because he "just liked it." If you turned an orchestra into a band, he says, the euphonium would play the cello parts. Powers studied music at Virginia Commonwealth University and joined "Pershing's Own," the U.S. Army Band 23 years ago. He played with the Army's Ceremonial Band for 10 years before joining the concert ensemble.

"One of these days I'll figure out if I like it," he jokes.

During music in the mountains, Parker says, audience members have been known to link arms and sway together to the music.

There are folding chairs for about 1,000 people, and many bring chairs and blankets to enjoy the music in the natural amphitheater with a Blue Ridge Mountain backdrop. Many people bring a picnic. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted.

The concerts are free, and parking is free beginning at 4 p.m.

In case of inclement weather, information about concert cancellation will be broadcast on area radio stations, Parker says.

For information, call the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Visitors Center, 1-304-535-6298.

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