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Air Force band presents free concerts

October 09, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

The Air Force is coming to Hagerstown - by bus, a couple of blue and white vans and two cargo trucks.

"It's like the circus coming to town - without the elephants," laughs Senior Airman Andrew T. Rummel.

The 45-piece U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band will perform a free concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12, at The Maryland Theatre.

There will be military music - marches, of course. And there will be much more.

There will be jazzy pieces and show tunes. There will be vocalists, and Sunday's program will feature selections from "Camelot."

The performance is about having a nice evening of music, says Maj. Larry H. Lang, conductor of the band. He adds that it's always the band's desire to honor veterans and active duty members of the armed forces.

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Lang, who has been in the Air Force since 1990, became commander of the Heritage of America Band in 1995.

Under his tenure, the band has produced 24 varied recordings - classical, jazz, patriotic, Broadway, Dixie and rock. Lang also has produced CDs for children and families of deployed members of the Air Force.

"We try to take care of our folks," he says.

The 61-piece ensemble includes the concert band and the Blue Aces ensemble. There also are several subgroups in the concert band - the Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble, the Heritage Brass Quintet, the Tradewinds woodwind quintet, the Langley Winds woodwind quintet, the American Clarinet Quartet and the Heritage of America Dixie Players.

The orchestra, created in 1941, is headquartered in Langley, Va., and is on the road about eight months a year, traveling up and down the East Coast, says Rummel, who plays tuba. The Heritage of America Band logs more than 30,000 miles and brings music to more than a million people a year. In the next week, people in Thurmont, Md., Cumberland, Md., and four cities in Virginia will hear the music.

A special feature of the small-town concerts is the inclusion of local high school musicians in performances. Lang hopes to spark further interest in young players, and, even if they don't pursue professional careers, he hopes they get excited about music.

Grant Shearer, a trumpeter in North Hagerstown's Hub Band, is one of eight local high school musicians who will perform with the Heritage of America Band. He, four other North High students and three musicians from South Hagers-town High School will join the professional musicians on "Fairest of the Fair," a piece by John Philip Sousa.

"It's pretty exciting," Shearer says.

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