The Kennedy High School wind ensemble traveled to the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Virginia, from April 20-22.
Director of Bands Walter Avellaneda said this was the first civilian band to perform on the base. Home to the Atlantic Fleet and the largest Naval base in the world, the students were invited to perform for active military, veterans and their families.
“We performed a live documentary in music with projections and audio clips called ‘Beyond Courage: That We Might Live’,” he explained. “In this self-contained 90-minute concert, we took the audience and transported them back to World War II by using actors, singers, movie projections and radio broadcasts from the era.”
The wind ensemble was joined by the Clarence High School wind ensemble & chorale from Clarence, New York.
“Once we got on stage it was surreal and made it so special,” alto saxophonist Alexandra Levitt added.
The performance at the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story was conducted by composer Stephen Melillo, who has been an artist-in-residence at Kennedy in past years.
Following “Beyond Courage: That We Might Live,” there was a special arrangement of “God Bless America.” The concert concluded with Melillo’s arrangement of the national anthem which brought many veterans and soldiers to rise with the help of their families for a final salute.
“This self-contained concert has only been performed three times in the country and recorded professionally by a Japanese military band, but this was the first time video and audio were actually synced together for this performance,” added Avellaneda.
In the past, Avellaneda said he has taken groups to compete or perform and they receive a trophy. With this performance, they were able to give something back to a deserving audience.
“It was the ultimate lesson in serving those who served while also providing students with an incredible immersive musical experience,” he said
Avellaneda said the experience tops the highlights of his education career thus far.
“The students were so excited, for all the right reasons, and I was just so thrilled and proud with how they all rose to the occasion,” he added. “It was not an easy road to get us there, but we kept thinking of those we were going to honor, and it was a great source of motivation.”
Date Added: 5/3/2023