Nearly six months ago, the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band was preparing for a concert in Wahpeton.
They were unable to play the Bremer Bank Theatre on North Dakota State College of Science’s Wahpeton campus due to blizzard conditions.
Figuring that October weather is more pleasant than April weather, the band scheduled two concerts for Thursday, Oct. 10. Despite on and off precipitation, near-freezing temperatures and the promise of a snow event, the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band kept its engagements.
Thirty-two members of the band held an 8:10 p.m. concert at the Bremer Bank Theatre. It followed a 6:45 p.m. concert at St. Catherine’s Living Center, Wahpeton.
“(We are) dedicated to the memory of all who proudly served and protected their county,” the band wrote on its program.
The Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band plays to audiences of all ages. Their membership and supporters include veterans of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 346 participated in the concert, displaying the American flag during “The Star Spangled Banner” and flags of the military during a medley, “Armed Forces on Parade.”
The Bremer Bank Theatre setlist was diverse, featuring patriotic pieces like “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and “O’er the Land of the Free” by Johnny Vinson. Vinson’s piece was composed in 2014 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of “The Star Spangled Banner,” the 100th anniversary of World War I and 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Audience members enjoyed the rousing songs, as well as performances including a bluegrass rendition of “Turkey in the Straw,” a Dixieland medley including Jeff DeVillers’ trumpet taking the lead on “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the Spanish “El Relicario,” a medley from “The Music Man” and Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”
The band was directed by Bernard McKigney, a former high school and junior high band director who spent 35 years in the military, including during the Vietnam War. McKigney has been with the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band/American Legion Post 2 Band for 40 years, more than 25 of which he’s spent as director.
Band members have years and in some cases, decades, of experience, the Bremer Bank Theatre audience learned. Their music makers include the flute, alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax, baritone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, baritone saxophone, tuba and percussion instruments.
While attendance was limited at the Bremer Bank Theatre concert, with just over 20 audience members, the band expressed their joy at playing a favorite venue.
For more information on the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band, visit www.rrvvcb.org or check out their Facebook page.