CLEARWATER — The Dunedin Concert Band is tuned up and ready to present its annual traditional patriotic concert. This year's concert title, "What So Proudly We Hail," honors those who serve and have served the country in any safety service.
The band starts the concert with a piece called National Emblem, a march and tribute to the American flag. But the biggest piece the band performs is As All the Heavens Were a Bell. A wide-screen video honoring the 9/11 firefighters, police, emergency medical service and other first responders who helped rescue and find people trapped in the rubble, will run during the piece.
"Bring Kleenex," said Louis Alan Zagar, the band's music director and conductor. "It's emotional and has caught all of us off guard. Even our narrator choked up last night during rehearsal. It's moving and touching, and in some cases, a very fun performance. I won't be surprised if the audience reacts powerfully to the music."
As part of the performance, a Ground Zero artifact dedicated to Dunedin will also be brought in and placed before the audience.
Zagar calls this concert, in the band's 30th season, a tribute to the true American spirit. It is a concert that Zagar and 71 band members of all ages have worked diligently to perfect.
"In the front row we have a 14-year-old," Zagar said. "In the back row, we have a 90-year-old bells player who has been with the band for eight years. What makes this band so unique is its overall cooperative spirit. Members go the extra step, including coming early before regular rehearsals to make sure our performances are absolutely top-notch.
"The trumpet section will come in and work on parts, the flute section will come in. It's simply one of the most musically cooperative groups, maybe the most musically cooperative group I've ever worked with."
Though there are 800 seats on the floor and bleachers inside Edinburgh Hall, in the past those seats have filled up fast. Word of mouth has turned one pre-Memorial Day concert into two.
Zagar, 62, a retired music educator who moved to Dunedin in 2005 from the Cleveland area, performed in the band for two years. This year he completes his fourth year as the band's music director and conductor.
"This Memorial Day concert is a little bit different," Zagar said. "The narration I wrote, which is brilliantly spoken by Bob Wells, speaks to remembering those who have served and currently serve the country, all year long. Not simply remembering them one or two days during the year.
"There is also a sub-thread that runs through the piece, one of hope for a final peace. I tried to convey the yearning of people, at least in America, for peace."