The Army Ground Forces Band played a free concert to a large audience Monday night at Cole Auditorium, on the campus of Richmond Community College.
Named “Home for the Holidays,” the holiday concert was dedicated to the troops currently deployed around the world, and featured the concert band and smaller ensembles.
A four piece ensemble played Christmas songs in the lobby of the auditorium as the guests arrived. The concert was sponsored by the Richmond County Daily Journal, in partnership with the college, as a gift to the community.
Before the concert began, the audience seemed excited to hear what was in store for them and once it ended the audience appeared to be very satisfied. “Anyone of those guys could be a professional musician outside the military,” said Kay Yates, one concert attendee.
In true military fashion, the show began promptly at 7 p.m.
Although the men and women appeared to be only musicians, the crowd was reminded that they also serve in the military as well as play when a couple of the members stood up to be recognized for various acts, including one Purple Heart recipient who was introduced to the crowd.
The Army Ground Forces Band consists of about 60 soldiers who have passed highly selective auditions and are among the finest musicians in the Army Band Program.
The spectacular concert consisted of many songs including “A Christmas Intrada,” “The Most Wonderful Time of Year,” “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo,” “The Night Before Christmas,” “Gloucestershire Wassail,” “The Boar’s Head Carol,” “A Chanukah,” “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Let It Snow,” “March of the Toys,” “It Must Have Been Ol’ Santa Claus,” “Blue Christmas,” and “Feliz Navidad.”
Different videos were projected behind the band in between songs including service men and women getting off planes as they arrived home, and the reactions of animals when their owner came through the door after being deployed.
One video showed various military men and women in uniform, currently stationed in different parts of the world, wishing their families a “Merry Christmas.” Immediately after this video ended, a moving rendition of Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” was sung and accompanied by a guitar, reminding the audience of the men and women who will not be coming home for Christmas.
The men and women on stage appeared to be having as much fun as the crowd as they danced, laughed, clapped and got the crowd involved in the show.
Joey Bennett, Cole Director, said the concert was “unbelievable, such a great community event.”
The crowd cheered as Santa Claus made an appearance and gave out candy canes.
The concert evoked laughter, tears, cheers, and applause from the audience as the musicians moved effortlessly from one song to the next.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.