A pa­tri­otic salute un­like any in Amer­ica

July 1st con­cert in county seat not to be missed

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By John Mc­caslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

If pre­vi­ous Amer­i­can Fes­ti­val Con­certs fea­tur­ing Rap­pa­han­nock County’s es­teemed Col. John Bourgeois stirred your soul, then you’ll want to grab your lawn chairs, blan­kets and pic­nic bas­kets and ex­pe­ri­ence this year’s old­fash­ioned mu­si­cal salute to Amer­ica.

The con­duc­tor emer­i­tus of “The Pres­i­dent’s Own” United States Ma­rine Band, who is re­ferred to as the mod­ern day John Philip Sousa, has quite the pa­tri­otic splash set for Sun­day, July 1 on the sweep­ing grounds of Avon Hall in Wash­ing­ton.

“Those com­ing will hear an ‘all-Amer­i­can’ pro­gram,

with the ex­cep­tion of course of 1812, which we con­fis­cated from the Rus­sians,” the colonel quips of the pop­u­lar over­ture. “1812 has be­come very much an Amer­i­can tra­di­tion — the Na­tional Sym­phony Orches­tra does it ev­ery year at the U.S. Capi­tol. We’re just con­tin­u­ing the tra­di­tion.”

If there is a theme for this year’s mu­si­cal trib­ute to Amer­ica it is “cen­ten­ni­als.”

“Yes, I’m serv­ing some cen­ten­ni­als,” says Bourgeois. “The cen­ten­nial of Bern­stein — this is his cen­ten­nial year — with his over­ture to Can­dide. We also have the cen­ten­nial of the death of Scott Jo­plin, and his Pineap­ple Rag.

“And then we have a lot of pa­tri­otic cen­ten­ni­als: cel­e­bra­tions, memo­ri­als, John Wil­liams’ Hymn to the Fallen. There are the an­niver­saries of World War 1, Korea, Viet­nam. And also this is the 75th an­niver­sary of the great Amer­i­can mu­si­cal Ok­la­homa. I’m happy to have a sce­nario from Ok­la­homa.”

And this year for the first time ever in Rap­pa­han­nock County, the renowned con­duc­tor whose ca­reer spanned nine pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tions start­ing with Dwight D. Eisen­hower, will in­tro­duce U.S. Ma­rine Gun­nery Sergeant Sara Sh­effield as the mez­zoso­prano vo­cal­ist and con­cert moder­a­tor.

Gun­nery Sgt. Sh­effield joined “The Pres­i­dent’s Own” in 2005, be­com­ing the first fea­tured fe­male vo­cal soloist in Ma­rine Band His­tory. She of­ten sings as a soloist at White House State Din­ners and the Com­man­dant of the Ma­rine Corps’ res­i­dence. Prior to join­ing “The Pres­i­dent’s Own,” she was a mem­ber of the U.S. Army Band’s Army Cho­rale at Fort Myer in Ar­ling­ton.

“She will be singing Shenan­doah, Amaz­ing Grace, and Stephen Fos­ter’s Some Folks Do,” Col. Bourgeois says of his col­league, who be­gan her mu­si­cal stud­ies at the age of 9.

“And also we will have an added at­trac­tion,” re­veals the colonel, his face bright­en­ing with en­thu­si­asm. “When I was at the Smokey Moun­tain Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in Gatlin­burg, Ten­nessee this spring I heard this won­der­ful young group that turned out to be neigh­bors of ours in Madi­son County, un­der the di­rec­tion of Cathy Weaver.

“The Madi­son County High School Band — 30 of their play­ers — will join in the end of 1812 and Stars and Stripes. This is Cathy’s first year at the school and she’s do­ing a great job there. And hope­fully next year and for the fol­low­ing years, as the band grows in size, we can add the Rap­pa­han­nock [County High School Band] for the ad­di­tional play­ers.”

RCHS and its band direc­tor Ja­son T. Guira, who Col. Bourgeois ap­peared with on stage last month, are pro­vid­ing much needed equip­ment for this year’s Amer­i­can Fes­ti­val Con­cert.

The im­pres­sive orches­tra will be made up of some of the most tal­ented mu­si­cians in the coun­try, “a lot of them re­tired from the Ma­rine Band and the ser­vice bands, and a lot of them my for­mer kids,” winks Col. Bourgeois, re­fer­ring to the hun­dreds of in­stru­men­tal­ists he’s groomed over the years.

Other ar­range­ments for the July 1 con­cert will in­clude the Armed Forces Medley, the Stars and Stripes For­ever March by John Philip Sousa, Amer­i­can Salute by Martin Gould, and John Wil­liams’ Lib­erty Fan­fare, which was writ­ten for the fes­tiv­i­ties sur­round­ing the cen­ten­nial of the Statue of Lib­erty. The con­cert will end with God Bless Amer­ica.

The en­tire cel­e­bra­tion is out­doors and starts at 5 p.m. (lawn ac­cess be­gins at 3 p.m.) on the newly sprucedup Avon Hall grounds be­hind Court­house Row in Wash­ing­ton. All res­i­dents of Rap­pa­han­nock County and be­yond are in­vited. Spe­cial ac­tiv­i­ties will be pro­vided for chil­dren.


Es­teemed Col. John Bourgeois has an “all-Amer­i­can” con­cert in store for ev­ery res­i­dent of Rap­pa­han­nock County, chil­dren in­cluded.


Re­peat per­for­mance: Col. John Bourgeois will once again lead the Sun­day af­ter­noon con­cert at Avon Hall in Wash­ing­ton.

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