FORT DRUM, NY — The 10th Mountain Division (LI) Band is preparing to spread some “joy to the world” with three holiday concerts in December.
The band will perform “Dear Santa … An Evening of Classic Holiday Music” Dec. 1 at Carthage High School, Dec. 4 at Clayton Opera House and Dec. 6 at Watertown High School. Each concert begins at 7 p.m.
All concerts are free but the Clayton Opera House is a ticketed event through the box office at www.claytonoperahouse.com or by calling (315) 686-2200.
While the free concerts may seem like a gift to community members, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Parker, band commander, said it is more of a “thank you” for their continuing support.
“We have very strong ties to the communities in the area, and we wanted to do something fun to give back to our neighbors,” he said. “The holidays can oftentimes be stressful and busy for a lot of people, and we just wanted to provide a little entertainment and perform for them. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The “Dear Santa” concept revolves around real letters to Santa that will be read during the concert, and each message relates to the song being performed. Parker said that the musicians are performing in a pop orchestra format, somewhat smaller than a big band orchestra.
“So, a lot of the music you’re going to hear is geared toward that style,” he said. “You’ll hear some classic pieces and some pop and modern-day holiday tunes – both vocal and instrumental.”
The set includes songs such as “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” “Christmas Time is Here,” “It Must Have Been Ol’ Santa Claus” and “Let It Snow, Let It Snow.”
Parker said that most Army bands normally perform one big holiday concert for the community. The 10th Mountain Division Band has not had that opportunity in recent years, primarily due to deployments and so they were limited to smaller engagements.
Sgt. Michelle Dykes is one of four vocalists who will perform in the concert series. “I am very excited to perform for the communities,” she said. “For me, this gets me into the holiday spirit, and I hope it does for everyone else too.” Dykes said that the song she likes singing the most is “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”
“It’s a lot of fun to sing, and I think a lot of the audience members will enjoy it,” she said.
Sgt. William Wallace gets to rock out on guitar and vocals with the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band classic “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” and U2’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – the latter being his personal favorite to perform.
“I think these concerts are a great opportunity to show the community what we do as an Army band,” he said. “A lot of the time, they see us performing at the ceremonial events, so this gives us a chance to showcase different styles of music – jazz, pop, rock, contemporary pieces – all together in the framework of holiday music that everyone knows and loves.”