Weekender

State College Area Municipal Band to honor veterans at annual concert

State College Area Municipal Band will kick off its new season on Sunday with its annual “Salute to Veterans” concert at Mount Nittany Middle School.
State College Area Municipal Band will kick off its new season on Sunday with its annual “Salute to Veterans” concert at Mount Nittany Middle School. Photo provided

The State College Area Municipal Band will kick off its new season on Sunday with its annual “Salute to Veterans” concert at Mount Nittany Middle School.

The band will be joined by guest soloist Master Sgt. Michael Mergen, a trumpeter who plays with the Marine Band. As with every “Salute to Veterans” show, the program will feature a host of patriotic numbers and pay a special tribute to World War II veterans, conductor Ned Deihl said.

Among the selections to be featured in the concert are “Stars and Stripes Forever,” a “war horse” overture and the “Armed Forces” medley, an annual SCAMB staple that salutes the different branches of the military.

“As we play their song, they stand up with their families and are recognized,” Deihl said. “It’s very exciting for them. They stand tall, stand with pride and we play their song. It’s a great way to end the concert.”

Another annual selection the band will play is a WWII medley, comprised of songs such as “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” that were popular during the WWII era.

“It’s a great arrangement, and always very popular,” Deihl said.

Following the “Salute to Veterans” concert, the season will include three more indoor concerts — in February, April and May — and three outdoor concerts in the summer.

This season will also be Deihl’s last as conductor; he plans to step down following the Mother’s Day concert in May. Deihl has served as conductor since 1996, for roughly half of the band’s 40-year-plus history.

“Ned’s been part of the band for so long that it’s hard to remember a time without him,” said band member Bill Fatula, who plays trumpet. “It would be a change to the band for sure.”

Starting with the outdoor concerts in the summer, Deihl will hand over the baton to the next conductor, who has yet to be appointed.

“It’s been great. They’re all wonderful people to work with,” Deihl said. “They seem almost like family after so many years.”

The band is composed of about 70 community members of a wide range of ages, including a few graduate students and one 92-year-old. Generally, the band’s music draws from “standard concert band literature,” although there are certain themes or patterns that will vary with each concert, Deihl said.

“We keep it a little lighter in the summer,” he said. “And, as I said, a little lighter, patriotic for Veterans Day. Then, probably a little more classical for April and May concerts.”

The band’s repertoire has included pop standards by composers like George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, as well as Broadway music, marches and classical works.

Hyun Soo Lee is a Penn State journalism student.

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