Music department honors veterans at assembly


Sydney Pomrening, Contributor

Friday, November 12th marks the second year that North gathered together the talent of the music department for an assembly meant to honor those who risked their lives to protect our country. The luncheon afterward hosted Veterans with different ranks, branches, and time served in the military. Upon asking a few people how they enjoyed the performance, several commented on appreciating the music.

Mr. Craig Kellenberger selected two short pieces of American Landscape and the Patriot to present.

“[American Landscape] evoked the greatness of the American countryside,” says Kellenberger.

His second piece, Patriot, is composed by John Williams, who produced music for such films as Star Wars and Jurassic Park, for the 2000 film The Patriot which embarks the story of a veteran during the Revolutionary War. The piece features Charles Wu on Keyboard, Jackson Presley on Snare, and Mac Bagwell on Timpani which captures a tad extra military flare.

Not only are there two percussionists performing with the orchestra on their second piece, but Mr. James Thaldorf, the band director, took on conducting both of the strings’ performances in Mr. Kellenberger’s place due to other commitments. Before the day of the ceremony, Thaldorf only worked with the honors orchestra once before but assured us of their exceptional playing before stepping into the auditorium.

Thaldorf had the honors band perform Armed Forces Salute, an arrangement in which intertwined all five military branches’ anthems, accompanied by a slideshow. He felt it extremely important that his students, the seniors, and all those in homeroom understand what it means to Veterans to have their branch’s anthem be played. Look around, watch, and respect the pride well up in the audience members for their recognition.

The honors band performed the same arrangement last year; however, Thaldorf recruited senior trumpet player, Oscar Brautigam, to perform ‘Echo Taps’ with him — a different pace from him performing it solo the year prior to him echoing Oscar from behind the audience. Thaldorf is avid on student involvement in events such as Veterans Day as he’s always been a patriotic citizen.

“I always don’t think everybody is always aware of, not only Veterans Day, but Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July, those holidays are special to a lot of people. And unfortunately, the Fourth of July and Memorial Day tends to be ‘I’m going to my cottage and hang out’ and maybe people don’t think about them the way they should. At least take some time to reflect as to the importance of all of these days, Veteran’s Day being one of them,”  says Thaldorf. “A percentage of our school, students will join the military, and maybe this is one of the reasons they will have an interest in doing so.”

Almost a dozen of his students have gone into the military, and about four of them have gone on to still play their instruments in the army’s marching band. Will Samson, an Appleton North alumni, plays tuba in the Marine band in Washington D.C. which Thaldorf describes as “the music equivalent of the NFL.” The odds are that slim that anybody makes it in.

We cannot wait to see what next year’s tribute to U.S. Veterans turns out like, but it can be safely assured that the music, the art, and students involved will not disappoint.