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The Salem Band hosted a large audience for their Fourth of July Concert, Stars and Stripes, held in the historic Salem Square in Old Salem near downtown Winston. The ensemble, led by music director, conductor, and executive director, Eileen Young, played all the classic patriotic songs, marches, and hymns you could think of. The setlist also included two world premieres, composed by Salem Band's very own trumpet player, David Teague. The W-S Pops Chorus, led by Kevin Mundy, joined the group for the evening on many of the songs as well, including plenty of sing-alongs that encouraged crowd participation. As a new alumna of Salem College, I loved the location of the concert. However, today it felt even more special. As many may know, the Salem Square is the home of the first ever Fourth of July Celebration held in America, making it the perfect place to perform for this concert!
The performance began with not one, but two arrangements of the "Star-Spangled Banner." The first was in typical army style, but the second was in the original ca. 1814 style. This version, arranged by Teague, was both familiar and completely new. It had me listening to every detail as I was trying to find the ornate embellishments I am used to hearing in this different, yet simple melody. It was one of my personal favorites from the night. Another piece that really spoke to me was "Summon the Heroes" by John Williams. It was originally composed for the opening ceremony of the 1996 Olympics, held in Atlanta, Georgia. This work was a little longer and more complex than many of the other songs from the evening, which is what I enjoyed about it the most. Principal trumpet player Ken Kline gave an excellent solo that truly brought the piece together. The whole work stood out from the crowd, yet still felt as patriotic as "God Bless America" and "This Land is Your Land" from later in the show.
John Philip Sousa made a handful of appearances on the program for this show, and the crowd loved every single piece by him; from "Semper Fidelis" to "The Washington Post March," the audience could be seen tapping their toes and clapping along to the classic Sousa marches. They were also a fan of the "Patriotic Medley Sing-Along," arranged by Daniel Hornstein with Mignon Dobbins on vocals. This number included well-known songs such as "You're a Grand Ole Flag" and "America" that the audience had no problem singing along with. "Y.M.C.A." by Morali, Belolo, and Willis, arranged by Larry Nored, has an honorable mention as well. Who does not love that catchy tune?
To close out the show, the ensemble played "America, The Beautiful" arranged by Carmen Dragon and "Stars and Stripes Forever" by Sousa, two of the most well-known patriotic pieces out there. These two songs were the perfect combination to end the evening – with their beautiful harmonic variations and classic melodies, it is hard not to enjoy this music!