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Hands Across the Sea
In May 1997, the Musikverin Stadtkapelle Heimsheim (the town band of Heimsheim, Germany) came to the United States—specifically the Upper Valley. The band members and their “fan club” were here for 3 days, and were housed by our band members and several folks in the community.
We had a special time, getting to know each other, and combining for rehearsal and a formal concert (below), which we presented to a full house in the Lebanon Opera House, in Lebanon, N.H.
In June of 1999, the UVCB traveled to Europe. We spent 10 wonderful days touring and presenting concerts in Austria and Germany. When we arrived in Heimsheim, we were greeted by our friends in the Heimsheim band, and we stayed with them in their homes. It was so nice to see how the “other half” lives.
We also had the distinct pleasure of participating in their Schlegler Fest, a three-day event that honors the “knights of old” who defended their town through the centuries.
There were games, competitions, a lot of laughs. and of course, singing and commeraderie. We also enjoyed the food and drink…there seemed to be a never-ending supply.
National Festival of the States
The Upper Valley Community Band was indeed honored by being invited to participate in the “National Festival of the States” in Washington, D.C. from October 25–28, 2001. The festival was in honor of the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The band represented not only the “Upper Valley” but the individual states of New Hampshire and Vermont.
In recognition of this invitation, Governor Dean proclaimed October 25–28, 2001 as “Upper Valley Community Band Days” in Vermont. Governor Shaheen also sent a proclamation to the ensemble commending the UVCB for being selected to represent the state of New Hampshire.
On our way into the city we passed the Pentagon and were able to see the devastation left by the 9/11 tragedy. We continued on and spent some time at the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials before we headed out to our motel.
Friday morning, back in D.C., our first stop was at the Iwo Jima Monument. Continuing on we went to the see the Korean War Memorial (AMAZING!!), and to the Vietnam Wall. We then took a short tour of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Capitol Building where we had our group picture taken, and Union Station—how magnificent this is especially after the restoration! After lunch we drove through Embassy Row, to the National Cathedral and then to the zoo.
After a delightful Italian repast in Alexandria we departed for Goodwin House West where we presented our first concert to a very enthusiastic audience of retired service personnel.
Saturday’s first stop was at the FDR Memorial. What a neat place—so meaningful and thought provoking! Then on to the Holocaust Museum. Words cannot describe this museum—one has to go there and experience it themselves—although it is something that everyone should see! With emotions on edge we had to switch gears to prepare for our next concert at the Old Post Office Pavilion. The concert was held in the gallery of the food court, which made for an “interesting” performance. The cavernous hall created havoc with the band due to the continual echo of the music we played. After lunch at the Old Post Office Pavilion we boarded the bus for the trip to Mt. Vernon. The highlight of this part of our tour was the band officers taking part in a wreath laying ceremony at Washington’s tomb. We were in good company, as the likes of Winston Churchill have participated in the same ceremony! Kit Griggs lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance, Carole and Hannah laid the wreath, and Cindy read a prayer. We finished the ceremony with the band “singing” God Bless America!
Our final concert at the Fairfax (a residence for retired service officers) was a huge success. One of our audience members profusely proclaimed that we were even better than the Army Band that had previously been there. (Am not sure we were THAT good, but we did have a good performance there!)
Sunday morning we loaded all the suitcases, instruments and souvenirs for our final trip into D.C. We visited Ford’s Theater, Peterson House (where Lincoln died), then continued on to see the White House. After leaving the White House we visited the Smithsonian(s). After about three hours of touring the museums of our choice we headed to the airport for the flight home.
All in all, the trip was a huge success. The members of the group had a very positive experience and proudly, with spirit and enthusiasm, represented the Upper Valley, New Hampshire and Vermont. We were privileged to celebrate America’s rich musical and cultural heritage in our nation’s capitol.