Singing Sergeants accompany Allentown Band in Veterans salute holiday concert
BY KAREN EL-CHAAR
Special to The Press
The Allentown Band concludes its 195th anniversary year with two annual events in November with renowned guest performers.
The “Americans We Tribute to Veterans Holiday Concert“ is 3 p.m. Nov. 19, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown, and the “58th Annual Holiday Dinner Concert” is 7 p.m. Nov. 21, Delta Hotel by Marriott, Breinigsville. The dinner concert is sold-out.
“The ‘Americans We’ concert honors all veterans with special tribute to honorees from World War II, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts selected by the Lehigh Valley Living History Project,” says Allentown Band Conductor Ronald Demkee.
“Along with the Allentown Band’s fine musicians, we are privileged and thrilled to present our special guest artists, the U.S. Air Force Band Singing Sergeants from Washington, D.C.,” Demkee says.
The Singing Sergeants is one of six musical ensembles from the U.S. Air Force Band and the official chorus of the U.S. Air Force.
Lt. Col. Michael D. Hoerber is Director of Operations for the U.S. Air Force Band, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., where he plans and oversees more than 1,600 annual concerts in the National Capital Region, United States and around the world.
Hoerber joined the U.S. Air Force in 2006 and previously served as Commander, U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific, Yokota Air Base, Japan, and its detachment at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, from 2018-2021.
Says Lt. Col. Hoerber, “It was a privilege meeting Ron [Demkee] several years ago and I had such an incredible experience performing with the great musicians of the Allentown Band.
“The band does a great service by honoring veterans annually and The Singing Sergeants will add a special element,” Hoerber says.
The concert opens with “Presentation of the Colors” by the Dieruff High School Air Force Jr. ROTC Unit No. 011 Allentown followed by the National Anthem and welcoming remarks by Allentown Mayor Matthew Tuerk and Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong.
The first concert selection, directed by Demkee, is the Paul Lavender arrangement of John Williams’ “Midway March.”
The Allentown Band is then joined by the Singing Sergeants under the baton of Hoerber in three patriotic selections: “This is My Country,” “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful.”
Robert W. Smith’s “The Greatest Generation” follows with narration by Emile Guida and an accompanying video, with Demkee conducting.
The program continues with recognition of veterans by Mike Sewards, Chairman-Founder-Historian, Lehigh Valley Veterans’ History Project, and Major General Gerald Still, USAF-Retired, President of Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council, Historian and Military Advisor.
The patriotic portion of the concert concludes with the Singing Sergeants’ presentation of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “God Bless America” and “Armed Services Medley.”
After intermission, the concert continues with holiday favorites, including Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” Steve Reisteter’s “A Celtic Christmas Celebration” and the Singing Sergeants’ presentation of “Carol of the Bells,” “This is My Wish, Let There Be Peace on Earth,” Chief Master Sergeant Benjamin Parks’ arrangement of Betsy Listenfelt’s “Freedom Song,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “A Christmas Festival.”
Says Hoerber, “The Allentown Band provides a positive outlet for the community and this concert is an opportunity for Americans of all backgrounds to get together and thank our veterans and our nation.”
The Allentown Band’s 58th Annual Holiday Dinner Concert theme is “Movie, Broadway & Holiday Favorites.”
“We are excited to welcome back Ciarán Sheehan, veteran star of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Les Miserables,’ for another performance with the band,” says Demkee.
Sheehan, who made his Broadway debut in “Les Miserables,” has many professional accomplishments to his credit, most notably playing the role of The Phantom in more than 1,000 performances on Broadway and in Toronto.
Other New York stage performances include numerous appearances with The Irish Repertory Theatre Company. As a producer, Sheehan created the sold-out production of “The Molly Maguires” directed by Tony-nominated Sheryl Kaller at the FM Kirby Center, Wilkes-Barre, in which he also starred. He has three PBS specials to his credit.
The concert opens with the traditional “Prayer of Thanksgiving” followed by selections featuring Sheehan in “’Les Miserables,” “Chess,” “The Music Man,” “Wonderful Town,” “West Side Story” and “Polar Express.”
In the program’s second half, the Allentown Band accompanies Sheehan in “A Home Alone Christmas,” several selections by composer Irving Berlin, “Blue Christmas,” “Silver Bells” and “Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera.”
The concert concludes with the popular Leroy Anderson favorite “Christmas Festival” and also “Stars and Stripes for Christmas.”
“Ciarán has performed with the band on many occasions over the years, including last year’s dinner concert,” says Demkee.
“He is the ‘real deal’ who relates very well with the band and the audience so we are pleased that he is back by popular demand,” says Demkee.
Allentown Band, “Americans We Tribute to Veterans Holiday Concert,“ 3 p.m. Nov. 19, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall, box office, 610-432-6715, https://www.millersymphonyhall.org
Allentown Band, “58th Annual Holiday Dinner Concert,” 7 p.m. Nov. 21, Delta Hotel by Marriott, 7736 Adrienne Drive, Breinigsville; the event is sold-out. https://allentownband.com