392nd Army Band Performs With the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra

By SGT Mary Beth Hightower
392nd Army Band

Friday August 3rd marked a historical day for both the 392nd Army Band and the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra. Though the two groups live and work in close proximity to each other, this was the first time that they joined forces to provide a concert for the community. Chief Warrant Officer Charles Vollherbst, commander of the 392nd said, “The combined concert between the 392nd Army Band and the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra at Appomattox Manor was a great opportunity to bring together two of the area’s professional musical organizations and perform at a beautiful and historic location.” He went on to say, “The occasion also gave our musicians the chance to perform some more challenging pieces along with a string section. The strings add different colors, dimension and shadings to the music along with the winds and percussion.”

The two groups rehearsed together in Virginia State University’s band hall Wednesday and Thursday evening to ensure a stunning performance on Friday. The camaraderie between the groups was immediately apparent, and made the undertaking not only achievable, but memorable and satisfying.

The site of the joint concert was General Grant’s Headquarters at Petersburg Battlefield’s City Point. The historical headquarters sits on a promontory where the Appomattox River flows into the James. A beautiful location, City Point provided a glimpse of the area’s roots in history along with a gentle summer breeze to the 700 community members in attendance. They gathered around the field behind the headquarters and enjoyed a diverse performance ranging from Gustav Holst’s “Mars” to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.” Mr. Vollherbst said, “The opportunity to conduct this group is also a great thrill. It has been almost 20 years since I’ve had the occasion to conduct “Mars” from Holst’s “The Planets.” It is a difficult piece and requires a large ensemble with the power to do it justice.”

The culminating event of the evening involved the services of another professional organization, the 832nd Ordnance Battalion from Fort Lee. The three groups collaborated their efforts in an exhilarating performance of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” The climax of this piece is a series of carefully timed cannon reports, provided by the members of the 832nd. These reports were actually written into the original score and add a truly unique level of energy to one of the most recognized pieces of music ever written. The Soldiers of the 832nd played their part brilliantly, and the audience was enthralled by the performance.

An orchestral arrangement of John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever helped close out the concert. Once the last note was played, it was evident the evening was a huge success for all three organizations and a treat for the community. Mr. Vollherbst said, “Being that this is the first of what we hope will be an ongoing collaboration, it was a huge success.”

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