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Classical View: Pioneer Band at West Park, Allentown

“The Pioneer Band of Allentown ends its Independence Week concerts on July 7 at Allentown’s beautiful West Park,” says Conductor Robert Billig, Jr.

The “Star Spangled Spectacular” concert will be presented by the Pioneer Band of Allentown, 7:30 p.m. July 7, West Park, 16th and Chew streets, Allentown.

The concert opens with “The Star Spangled Banner,” the song which President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 ordered be performed at military and other appropriate occasions and President Herbert Hoover in 1931 officially adopted as the National Anthem of the United States of America.

The performance of John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” follows. First introduced in Philadelphia on May 14, 1897, the work became the official National March of the United States on Dec. 11, 1987.

The concert continues with “National Airs from Early America,” arranged by Dan Woolpert, a medley of popular songs such as “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean” and “Washington’s March.”

“Echoes of the Battlefield” by Darren Jenkins includes World War I favorites “Over There,” “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” “Keep the Home Fires Burning” and “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile.”

“Concord” by Clare Grundman is premised on traditional tunes “The White Cockade,” by composer Robert Burns, 1790; “America,” with lyrics by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith, 1831, and “Yankee Doodle,” with lyrics by Richard Schuckberg, 1755.

“Lest We Forget” by James Swearingen is a tribute to his father, a munitions specialist in World War II.

“The Homefront: Musical Memories from World War II,” by James Christensen, features “It’s Been a Long, Long, Time,” “Thanks for the Memory,” “Bell Bottom Trousers” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me).”

“America the Beautiful,” what began as a poem by Wellesley College English Literature Professor Katharine Lee Bates, was published on July 4, 1895. The music was composed in 1882 by Samuel Augustus Ward. One of the most beautiful and popular arrangements of “America the Beautiful” for symphonic band, composed in 1960, is by Oscar and Emmy Award-winning composer and conductor Carmen Dragon.

“American Salute,” by composer Morton Gould, is one of his most popular works. Written in 1942 during the early days of World War II, it is based on the Civil War tune “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” composed in 1863 by Patrick Gilmore.

Interspersed throughout the concert are marches: “Semper Fidelis” by John Philip Sousa, “National Emblem March” by Edwin Eugene Bagley, “March of the Women Marines” by Louis Saverino and “Song of the Seabees” by Peter DeRose, arranged by R. Billig, Jr.

The concert concludes with Bob Lowden’s “Armed Forces Salute” and Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”

“Star Spangled Spectacular,” Pioneer Band of Allentown, 7:30 p.m. July 7, West Park, 16th and Chew streets, Allentown. Inclement weather location: Lehigh Valley Active Life, 1633 Elm St., Allentown. Free; tickets not required. Information: https://www.pioneerband.com/

“Classical View” is a column about classical music concerts, conductors and performers. To request coverage, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, pwillistein@tnonline.com

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Pioneer Band of Allentown, West Park, Allentown.