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Band honors fallen vets

Guests join Memorial Day tribute concert

WARREN — Several guests will help the W.D. Packard Concert Band commemorate Memorial Day at its next concert.

Sunday’s performance, conducted by Stephen L. Gage, will feature the Lawrence County Brass, vocalists Doug Thomas and Miranda Russell and Sydnie Schoening and Bradley J. Holko, who will do spoken word pieces accompanied by the band.

Lawrence County Brass, now in its 37th year, has released three CDs. Its current lineup features Jesse Croach, Chris Masi and Anthony Pecoraro, trumpets; Karmin Dando, French horn; Tom Schaffner, trombone, Kevin Rorabaugh, euphonium; Gary Taylor, tuba; and Ken Stewart, drums.

This will be the ensemble’s first appearance with the band.

“A couple of their members have substituted with the Packard band in the past,” Executive Director Thomas Groth said. “Of course, we all know each other. They’re a fun group of guys, good musicians and former teachers.”

The brass ensemble will perform the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and an arrangement of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” and its three trumpet players will be featured in a recitation by Holko of Ronald Reagan’s Memorial Day Speech, which also will include vocals by Russell and pianist James Garber.

“Russell (a graduating senior at Boardman High School) sang with us at Christmastime and sang at the jazz fest in April,” Groth said. “She has extraordinary feel for a person that young.”

Russell and Thomas will sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and Thomas also will perform Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”

“I heard that arrangement of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” when Vince Gill and his daughter sang it,” Groth said. “That’s the way we’re going to present it. And ‘God Bless the U.S.A.,’ Doug Thomas does a really good job with that tune.”

Schoening, a fifth-grade student from Howland, will be featured on Brian Balmages’ “Journal for a Soldier,” and the Packard band’s Frank Cosenza will be the featured trumpet soloists on Lauren Keiser’s “To Those We Remember” and Roy M. Miller’s “Elegie Militaire.”

“Roy Miller was the second conductor for the Packard band,” Groth said. “That piece has withstood time. It’s very martial and interspersed with trumpet calls, very appropriate for the day.”

Some parts of Sunday’s program have been Memorial Day traditions for the band, such as the Armed Forces salute and Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” but this year’s program include several new selections.

“That’s what the pandemic was good for,” Groth said. “I can’t tell you the hours during week I spent listening to new music … There are a lot of European companies that had some really great band tunes out there.”

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