Saratoga County

Military concert back on at SPAC

The county will sponsor a free military band concert this year, after all.

The county will sponsor a free military band concert this year, after all.

The county Veterans Committee on Monday made arrangements for the Air Force Band of Liberty to play an afternoon concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Sept. 25. As in the past, the event will honor veterans, but admission will be free for everyone.

“I think our concert is up and running, off the ground,” said committee Chairwoman Mary Ann Johnson, R-Day.

The budget for the event will be scaled back, though, from the $50,000 spent last year to about $29,500.

“I think this is a good compromise,” said committee member Phil Barrett, R-Clifton Park.

The committee has been trying to set up a new concert since learning in February that the $50,000 it expected to have for a 2010 band concert had been cut from the county budget. At that point, it looked like there might be no concert this year.

News stories about the prospective loss of the popular concert led to many comments and e-mails from people who were disappointed, members of the committee said.

The concerts have become an annual tradition in the last decade, offered for free as a way of honoring veterans who live in the county. They have drawn about 5,000 people each year.

By the time the county began trying to organize a 2010 concert, it had lost the opportunity to host the Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus, which had performed the concert for the last three years. Also, that band, which had performed for free in the past, wanted $13,000 in financial assistance.

The remaining choice was between the West Point Band and the Air Force Band of Liberty from Hanscom Air Force Base, in Massachusetts. The committee decided Monday to go with the Air Force band, because the West Point Band wasn’t available most Saturdays in the fall.

“I’ve attended them many times. They are absolutely fabulous,” said Stillwater Supervisor Ed Kinowski, a retired Air National Guard general.

The band is a 45-piece ensemble that plays in a variety of musical styles and has vocalists. It has played the SPAC Mothers’ Day concerts in the past and also at Proctor’s in Schenectady.

Because of the late-September date, the committee decided to move the concert time from evening to 3 p.m., thinking it will be warmer.

A $29,500 budget would include rental of SPAC, a reduced advertising budget and hotel rooms. The county will be required to provide 25 hotel rooms, though the band doesn’t otherwise charge.

County Administrator David A. Wickerham said he believes the money can be found elsewhere in the county budget between now and September.

Categories: Life and Arts

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