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Record Orchestra Takes Center Stage at Kennedy Center to Benefit Wounded Warriors

Gale Curcio
By Gale Curcio
Posted on Jul 07,2011
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,
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Photo by IDOPHOTO.COM<br /> <br />Ulysses S. James and Carol Connors.
Photo by IDOPHOTO.COM
Ulysses S. James and Carol Connors.

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - When H. David Meyers comes up with an idea, he doesn’t just think about it - he acts upon it. Last year, he decided that he wanted to promote orchestral music - AND pay a tribute to the wounded warriors.

Photo by IDOPHOTO.COM<br /> <br />Ulysses S. James conducts the orchestra as they perform the Armed Forces Medley.
Photo by IDOPHOTO.COM
Ulysses S. James conducts the orchestra as
they perform the Armed Forces Medley.

Months of planning culminated in last month’s A Tribute to Wounded Warriors that was held at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts last month.
 
Meyers, members of Beethoven Found (a non-profit organization that works to help raise awareness of the importance of classical music education in youth) and volunteers spent hundreds of hours to gather together some of the finest musicians, singers and conductors in town.

The result was a spectacular event that was enjoyed by hundreds of people and raised much-needed money to help the Wounded Warriors.

“I wouldn’t do a single thing differently,” said Meyers. “It was the best concert ever – and the largest at the Kennedy Center.”

Musicians came from the Baltimore Symphony, the National Symphony, and the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association.
 
In total there were 117 members of the orchestra, but they had to cut that back to 108 to fit on the stage. It was the largest assemblage to perform in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

Photo by IDOPHOTO.COM<br /> <br />H. David Meyers introduces Shawn K. Clement, the composer of
Photo by IDOPHOTO.COM
H. David Meyers introduces Shawn K. Clement,
the composer of "The Warrior Hymn."

It was also the largest orchestra that Ulysses S. James had conducted. James is the founder and music director of the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association (WMPA), a not-for-profit organization of musicians and music lovers dedicated to making high-quality musical performances and opportunities accessible to the community. He has conducted at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall and Strathmore Concert Hall.

“H. David Meyers is always aware of and looking for ways to contribute and promote orchestral music and play,” said James. “He’s been working towards this for over a year. He always thinks big.”

James said that they had just two rehearsals that day giving them time to rehearse each piece only one time.

“I’m pretty used to that,” he said. “It was quite wonderful – I conducted as well as I know how.”

Also conducting was David Sheets, director of ministries for marriage and choral conductor at McLean Bible Church.

Singers also came from all over – a total of 287. There were so many that the stage could not accommodate them either. Instead of not using all of them, Meyers decided to have the extra singers line up in the aisles.

Photo by IDOPHOTO.COM<br /> <br />Ulysses S. James during rehearsal.
Photo by IDOPHOTO.COM
Ulysses S. James during rehearsal.

One of the singers, Bernie Cohen, said, “Overall it was warm and wonderful and for an excellent cause. I was very impressed with how the rehearsal went. 110 piece orchestra. Nine bass fiddles, 12 Celli, six French horns. Numbers that match some of the best orchestras in the world. Then the concert started. Singers standing in the loft, standing in the aisles of the auditorium. The presentation of the colors, the Star Spangled banner, the talk…”

Meyers served as master of ceremonies and introduced the various guests – including Julia Nixon, Carol Connors, Shawn K. Clement and Jon Anderson.

Nixon, who performed the lead role of Effie in Dreamgirls on Broadway, sang a magnificent rendition of Summertime, while Connors thrilled the audience when she sang America the Beautiful and then helped to conduct the theme from Rocky.

Anderson, lead vocalist and creative force behind Yes, sang The Warrior Hymn, a song penned by Shawn K. Clement and arranged by Carl Rydlund, and later sang State of Independence. INSPIRE, a gospel group from Washington, DC, also performed America the Beautiful.

Meyers, who has been a concert oboist for years, performed the Oboe Concerto, a piece composed for Meyers by Albert Willem Holsbergen in 2007. This diverse composition illustrated the depth of Meyers’ expertise as he flawlessly performed the third and second movements. Holsbergen later signed copies of his Beethoven Lost & Rediscovered CD.

Photo by Gale Curcio<br /> <br />Albert Willem Holsbergen signs a copy of his CD for Tom Curcio.
Photo by Gale Curcio
Albert Willem Holsbergen signs a copy of
his CD for Tom Curcio.

A group of performers from the John Hopkins Peabody Conservatory performed Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, and Tristan Clarke, a local student who just completed his freshman year at the Conservatory, said, “It really was a pleasure to play such a powerful piece for such an invested audience. This is one of those performances that only come around every few years. Very memorable.”

Meyers’ goal is to create a National Wounded Warriors Day and a National Telethon.
The next event is scheduled for October 14, 2011 at the Verizon Center.

For more information, call 240-270-2010.


Photo by Gale Curcio<br /> <br />Gale and Tom Curcio with Jon Anderson.
Photo by Gale Curcio
Gale and Tom Curcio with Jon Anderson.


Photo by Gale Curcio<br /> <br />Ulysses S. James greets guest during intermission.<br />
Photo by Gale Curcio
Ulysses S. James greets guest during
intermission.


Photo by Gale Curcio<br /> <br />Ulysses S. James with David and Cheryl Anne Colton.
Photo by Gale Curcio
Ulysses S. James with David and Cheryl
Anne Colton.


Photo by Gale Curcio<br /> <br />Bernie Cohen, Tom Curcio and Sherry Clarke before the concert.
Photo by Gale Curcio
Bernie Cohen, Tom Curcio and Sherry Clarke
before the concert.


Photo by Gale Curcio<br /> <br />Ulysses S. James visits with his wife, Nancy, and his son and wife, David and Diane James.
Photo by Gale Curcio
Ulysses S. James visits with his wife, Nancy,
and his son and wife, David and Diane James.





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