University Band honors veterans with performance

Jeff LamsonSpecial to the Southern News

The SCSU Band honored veterans of the armed forces with a variety of patriotic marches and compositions. Craig Hlavac directed the University Band in its tribute with pieces such as “Arlington,” “Veterans’ Salute” and an encore of “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

It was a powerful evening on Nov. 9, with many veterans from the five branches of the armed forces in attendance. Many of the musicians in the University Band have grown up with veterans in their families and they describe what the music at this concert means to them.

Percussionist Aidan Vrilic said, “It’s not just music at this point.”

The sophomore and music major has had a grandfather and an uncle serve in the Navy for a combined 40 plus years and Vrilic plans on enlisting after graduation himself.

“You develop an emotional attachment to the music,” says Drew McWeeney, a senior and percussionist. McWeeney’s grandfather served in the Korean War and currently has cousins serving in the armed forces.

“This concert really hits home for me,” said Vrilic. “I find it’s a lot easier to play music well when it’s actually coming from your heart.” Vrilic hoping to be the third generation in his family to serve, he stressed the importance of the opportunity to play this music with veterans in attendance.

McWeeney said, “I think this concert will get people thinking about veterans.”

When asked about why the theme of this concert was chosen, Hlavac noted that “Veterans are an important part of our community.”

His own grandfather is a veteran of the armed forces who served as a guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Arlington National Cemetery.

“I think the community was appreciative of the opportunity to recognize these important parts of our Southern family,” said Hlavac.

Although selling tickets to raise money for veterans was considered, it was eventually decided that the concert should be free. This way, Hlavac explained, there would be no barriers for people to enjoy the show. Everyone could come and celebrate the people who’ve served.

Although the University Band often plays concerts with different themes, this “A Salute to Our Veterans” concert may not be the last of its kind here at Southern.

Hlavac said, “It may become something that we do on a traditional basis.”

It’s also important to note that the timing of the University Band’s winter concert lines up so well with Veterans’ Day. The theme of the concert makes a lot of sense when looking at a calendar.

Marching music developed from the utilitarian means of communicating on the battlefield with drums and other instruments. Now Southern is continuing this tradition by playing classic American military music to a crowd with veterans and the families of veterans in it.

Vrilic, proud of the history of this music says, “I feel like we’re not only carrying on a lineage, but I feel like we’re opening it up to other people.”

Vrilic, McWeeney and Hlavac and the rest of the SCSU University Band and audience were all seen applauding the veterans in the crowd who applauded them right back.

Photo Credit: Jeff Lamson

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