Symphonic band makes Gettysburg performance

The SDSU Symphonic Band received an opportunity to play at the commemoration ceremony for the Battle of Gettysburg. 

“We received an invitation to play as part of the 150th commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg,” said Director of the Bands Eric Peterson. 

The symphonic band usually plans a trip every four years, and this year was an opportunity not only to be part of a national celebration and showcase the band on a national level, but also be exposed to many national and historic landmarks. Other performances in the D.C. area including performing with a local high school and at national monuments were also worked in to the trip.

The band left Brookings on May 6, after many members played in the graduation ceremony, and returned on May 11. Fifty-three students and chaperones rode in a bus across the country to perform. 

“It was a whirlwind tour,” Peterson said.

The memorial concert took place at Gettysburg National Military Park Wednesday, May 8 in the visitor’s center. Before the concert, the band went on an extensive tour of the Military Park grounds.

“To play there you feel you are part of something more than just yourself,” said clarinet instructor Michael Walsh.

The symphonic band is made up of not only music majors, but also students from many different majors. The band represents students from all departments and backgrounds. 

“The trip was a great way for our students to showcase university and learn about the nations history,” Peterson said.

It was a venue for students to be introduced to monuments in D.C. and Military Park.

While there, the Symphonic Band played a concert at the Lincoln Memorial overlooking the National Mall, toured Gettysburg National Cemetery and were able to see many monuments in D.C. Members of the band also got an opportunity to meet with U.S. senators. 

Members of U.S. Army band sat in with the students and provided instruction during a rehearsal. The band participated in a rehearsal with the Army band and afterward the Army band spoke with students about instruments and equipment knowledge as well as auditions and audition strategies.

Senior pharmacy major and principal clarinet, Katherine Tierney said, “playing the concert on Lincoln Memorial was a once in a lifetime experience.” 

The Symphonic Band also performed with the Bishop Ireton High School band in Virginia.

“It was a great opportunity to promote our university and have our band play,” Peterson said.

According to Walsh, highlights of the trip include playing with the army TRADOC, playing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and also playing at Bishop Ireton High School.

“Lincoln Memorial was one of the best parts of the trip. We played on the steps of the memorial, it was a beautiful day,” Walsh said.

According to Walsh, Fred Ellwein, an SDSU grad, Chief Warrant Officer 4, who lead the Drum and Fife Corp as the commander during President Obama’s inauguration, came to watch the performance at the Lincoln Memorial. During the performance, two helicopters flew over and Ellwein told students that one of the helicopters had the President in it. 

The band also premiered a piece called Auto 66 in which Walsh was the clarinet soloist. The piece was commissioned by over 11 schools and showcases where the future of music is going.

“It was a great opportunity to play a brand new piece and premiere it in D.C.,” Walsh said.