Tech. Sgt. Aaron Paige, U.S. Air Force Band Singing Sergeant, sings "Ave Marie" during the 2012 Holiday Concert at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C., Dec. 9. The bands' mission is to honor those who have served, inspire American citizens to heightened patriotism and service, and positively impact the global community. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Stout)
Chief Master Sgt. Jennifer Pagnard, U.S. Air Force Band member, reads "Twas the Night Before Christmas" during the 2012 Holiday Concert at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C., Dec. 9. The concert was free of charge and open to the general public. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Stout)
12/21/2012 - Washington D.C. -- DAR Constitution Hall was filled with holiday cheer as The United States Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants presented their annual Holiday concerts Dec. 8 and 9. The poinsettia-lined stage also featured a 20-foot Christmas tree, as well as two smaller trees and a seating area reserved especially for some special guests.
This year's concert theme was "Spirit of the Season" and began with a festive "Fanfare on Deck the Halls" followed by an arrangement of "Spirit of the Season" from The Polar Express. Master Sgt. John Bliss' arrangement of "Ave Maria" featuring the newest member of the Singing Sergeants, Tech. Sgt. Aaron Paige, was preceded by a powerful piece entitled "Gloria." A special Hannukah selection, "Festival of Light," and an arrangement of "Waltz of the Flowers" from The Nutcracker Suite were then played by the Concert Band. The Band was thrilled to once again be joined by dancers from the Virginia Ballet Company. This non-profit organization was established to enhance the cultural interests of Northern Virginia and the Metropolitan area through the institution of a ballet school that performs and brings an artistic force to the community, adding a dimension to the education of the community's youth. Special thanks to the members of the Virginia Ballet Company and its artistic director, Tish Cordova, for returning to perform with The United States Air Force Band for a third consecutive year!
After a theatrical reading of "The Night Before Christmas," the audience was invited to choose the next selection. Once brief snippets of three selections were played, the audience was asked to chose, by applause, which piece they would like to hear. Each night the crowd picked the same selection: "Deck the Halls" featuring the Concert Band's percussion section and each night the crowd was not disappointed. One of the Band's small ensembles, Celtic Aire, played the next set performing three songs putting the audience in the Celtic spirit. A humorous rendition of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" was then performed by piccolo soloist, Tech. Sgt. Megan Neil and contrabassoon soloist, Tech. Sgt Eddie Sanders. Next, the Band had a "surprise" visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus and their elves just in time for "Mister Santa" sung by the women of the Singing Sergeants and a swingin' version of "Jingle Bells" featuring Tech. Sgt. Taylor Armstrong with a women's trio. The concert ended with a sing-along in which several children from the audience were invited to the stage to help with the singing.
Sprinkled throughout the concert, videos of holiday greetings by deployed Airmen from the National Capitol Region were played. The printed program opened with a message from the 11th Operations Group commander, Col. Gina Humble. In it she wrote, "Throughout the concert, we ask that you keep in mind the thousands of Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines serving around the globe, far from their families and friends, especially all U.S. personnel deployed in harm's way. These heroes ... active duty, guard, reserve and civilian ... are America's most valued asset. We sincerely appreciate their selfless service and tremendous sacrifice which allow us to celebrate this holiday season in freedom."