Memorial Concert Band will give D-Day its due

Al Hallenbeck, knows all about remembrances on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Hallenbeck, ba

Al Hallenbeck knows all about remembrances on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

Hallenbeck and his musician friends believe the Capital Region can appreciate another day of patriotism. That’s why the Memorial Concert Band of Colonie will recall D-Day — June 6, 1944 — in a performance set for Sunday at Shaker High School, off Route 155 in Latham.

The show, free and open to the public, begins at 3 p.m.

“It was an important day in our history, and I feel it should not be overlooked,” said Hallenbeck, band president and the former longtime director of music at the former Mont Pleasant High School in Schenectady. “It tends not to be observed at all between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.”

Memorial Concert Band of Colonie

WHAT: D-Day remembrance concert

WHERE: Shaker High School, off Route 155 in Latham

WHEN: Sunday at 3 p.m.



D-Day was pivotal in World War II, the day Allied forces began their invasion of Western Europe. American, British, Canadian and Free French troops participated, storming the beaches of Normandy. American casualties at Omaha Beach alone numbered around 5,000 out of 50,000 men, most of them during the first few hours.

Music of the era

The 85-member Memorial Concert Band, concluding its 10th season, will play patriotic pieces and also include a medley of music from the era — songs like “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” and “The White Cliffs of Dover.” Standards like “America the Beautiful” and “The Liberty Bell March” also will be on the playlist.

The concert’s big numbers will be a reading of the prayer “Let Our Hearts Be Stout” that President Franklin D. Roosevelt read to the American people over the radio during the evening hours of June 6. Music will accompany the prayer.

Words from President Ronald Reagan, describing the bravery of the 1940s men and women, also will be heard. The band will play “Epilogue” during the Reagan segment.

Hallenbeck believes people appreciate displays of patriotism. He said when he was in South Carolina working with the Coastal Carolina University marching band and brass choir during the mid-2000s, the school’s football halftime shows always honored veterans. People in the stands cheered every time.

Hallenbeck said the Concert Band’s shows always attract senior citizens, and he expects many will remember the D-Day time — even though they might have been just kids themselves in 1944.

“I was 8 years old, and I remember sitting by the radio with my mom and dad when President Roosevelt made that speech,” Hallenbeck said. “It was kind of a big thing. People were saying, ‘Holy smoke!’ ”

The Colonie band has several veterans in its ranks. Music director and principal conductor Henry Carr served in the Air Force during World War II, flying combat missions in the South Pacific.

Associate conductor Art Himmelberger served 23 years as a U.S. Army musician in Washington, D.C., and West Point. At West Point, he was a senior noncommissioned officer (sergeant major) of the West Point Band, percussionist and major musical events producer.

The band will begin its 11th season with a concert in October.

Categories: Life and Arts

Leave a Reply