PANGBURN — While some people anticipate the summer to get away from frigid temperatures, this summer marks something different for members of the Pangburn High School and Junior High bands. When June 6 rolls around, these students will show off their musical skills in the nation’s capital.
Bill Mitchell, director of bands, said about 35 members of the combined bands will play at the National Festival of the States on June 6, which will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, which was the day Allied troops invaded Normandy, France.
“The National Festival of the States is a concert organization that sets up tribute concerts like this, and they contacted me,” Mitchell said.
According to the National Festival of the States’ website, this year’s concert will serve as a musical tribute to those who fought in World War II. While in Washington, D.C., the band will play a concert at the National Mall, along with a performance at the Sons of America, a retirement home for veterans, Mitchell said.
“There are going to be some actual living survivors there [at our performances],” he said.
Mitchell said he tries to get a trip together for the band every two to three years so that every band member has the opportunity to travel with the band.
“One year we went to Florida, one year we went to San Antonio, and this year, this opportunity came up,” he said. “Washington, D.C., is just a good town to take students to because there are so many historical things to see and do. You can see your country’s history come alive in front of you.”
Pangburn’s bands are relatively small, Mitchell said, and some of the band students don’t otherwise get the chance to travel and visit places like they do on his trips.
“A lot of our kids don’t get the opportunity to see anything like this — the opportunity to see history in person,” he said. “We are taking all of our senior high band and a selected junior high group [on the trip].”
Traveling to Washington, D.C., comes with a pretty hefty price tag, and the band has already hosted fundraisers to raise money for the trip, Mitchell said.
When the weather gets warmer, he said, the band plans to sell T-shirts, as well as have a car wash.
Mitchell has been with the Pangburn band for 10 years and has taken the band to Washington, D.C., before.
“It’s neat to see the Capitol in the background as you’re directing your band,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing there and seeing the pride in our kids as they do their own musical tribute.”
While the playlist hasn’t been solidified yet, Mitchell said, the band has already started working on a couple of songs for its tribute to veterans on June 6.
“We’re working on a song called ‘By the Dawn’s Early Light’ — it’s really soft and pretty — and a song called ‘In Honor of the Fallen,’” Mitchell said. “We’re also going to play a song or two from [the veterans’] generation.”
Mitchell said he enjoys seeing his students come together as one unit and perform at a national venue.
“The best part of this experience is seeing all of these kids work hard all year long, and they have this goal,” he said. “[The performance] is at the end of the year, and they know if we work real hard, we can come together as a group and perform.”