Army Band concert a rousing hit in Waynesboro

July 07, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The view of the Pennsylvania National Guard 276th Army Band from the back of the middle school auditorium was obscured by dozens of heads bobbing to popular marches on Thursday night.

The heads rested and a few tears were shed when the band dedicated "With Quiet Courage" to the families of deployed troops, and at least one hand was raised in salute as all who had served were asked to stand during another piece.

The patriotic evening at Waynesboro Area Middle School shifted the crowd's focus repeatedly from overseas to the home front during the free concert, which was part of the 10-day celebration of WaynesboroFest 2006.

"At age 10, I said I was going to go into the Navy, and I did," said Betty Wolff of Waynesboro.


Now, Wolff fosters a lifelong love of military music by attending every concert possible with her husband, Dean.

She was all smiles during the performance's intermission, after the band from Philadelphia had played selections including "America, the Beautiful," a medley of Louis Armstrong's popular music and "Duty, Honor, Country" joined with the content of a speech by Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

The second half featured a saxophone solo in "Persuasion," a "Salute to New York City" with Leonard Bernstein compositions and a screamer by Henry Fillmore called "Rolling Thunder."

"A screamer is circus slang for a real fast march," Sgt. 1st Class Russell Brown told the crowd.

"We took it down a little bit because the chief is getting up in years," he joked, turning to Chief Warrant Officer III Anthony V. Di Toro, who conducted the 26 musicians.

Those previously trained musicians often join the unit for its reputation, Di Toro said. They spend half of their active-duty time performing, he said.

"This is one day of active duty," Di Toro said. "Tomorrow, we have to be at work."

Selections such as the Armstrong medley resonate with an older crowd, Di Toro said. Many of the people in the auditorium identified that piece as their favorite.

"We are a repository," Di Toro said. "We are a history lesson, so to speak."

A love of military music similar to the Wolffs' brought Diane Esser and Phyllis Fadeley, both of Waynesboro, to the concert.

"I do like the marches and the upbeat stuff," Esser said, sharing excitement about what she called the "spirit-filled, patriotic" selections.

"I was invited by my neighbor, who had tickets," said Peggy Etter of Waynesboro. She expressed thanks to that neighbor, Esther Fleagle, for bringing her to an evening she thoroughly enjoyed.

Fleagle's nephew, Ryan Wildermuth, finished one tour of duty in Iraq, and has been told he might be deployed again in October.

"He spent his 21st birthday in Iraq," Fleagle said.

Another pair attending the concert were Julie and Jackie Bayer of Waynesboro.

"My mom got the tickets," Jackie Bayer said. "She loves the music."

WaynesboroFest 2006 continues through Sunday. For more information, go to

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