Trombonist, Gary Cooper, will be the featured vocal soloist at the July 4th Municipal Band Concerts.


Director of the St. Joseph Municipal Band, Dr. Donald Moely, indicated the band concerts scheduled for Wednesday, July 4, at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., will be very patriotic.  Over the last years it has become a tradition to honor all veterans who have served their country to stand during the playing of the song of their service.  In addition the band asks all veterans to come up on the stage during the last strains of the traditional closing for the concert “Stars and Stripes Forever,” by Sousa.  Dr. Moely says “this is one of the band’s favorite concerts of the season because even though they can’t play the music they might choose in this traditional day, they are very impressed with all the veterans that are honored for their service to maintain and preserve our freedom.”

The concert begins appropriately with “Americans We.”   Upon its publication in 1929, composer Henry Fillmore dedicated it to “all of us Americans.”  Several years later Fillmore realized it was probably his finest march.   

Next the band features a difficult patriotic selection, “American Salute” by Morton Gould.  This composition uses only one tune ‘When Johnny Comes marching Home Again’ for its thematic development, unique in its Americanism, typical of composer Morton Gould. 

The band then brings forward its long time trombone section leader, Gary Cooper, who will be the featured vocal soloist for the concert and will sing “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood.   Gary A Cooper attended Lake Michigan College, Indiana University of South Bend and the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.  Cooper has played with the Michigan Opera Orchestra as well as the South Bend, Kalamazoo and Chicago Civic Symphonies and sang in the Chicago Symphony Chorus.  He has performed as a soloist with Southwestern Michigan Symphony, Elkhart Symphonies as well as the St Joseph Municipal Band and sings in a chamber vocal group called Opus Nine.  Cooper is Artist in Residence in the St. Joseph and Lakeshore Pubic Schools.  He also teaches at the CARE Arts Center for the Salvation Army and teaches private lessons.  Cooper is an active clinician and soloist in the Midwest region.  

A march by John Philip Sousa is next in “America First.”   This is followed by an old fashioned sing along by James Ployhar, lead by featured vocalist for the concert, Gary Cooper.  The audience will have a chance to sing along with the band to: “Yankee Doodle Boy,”  ”America the Beautiful,” “The Caissons Go Rolling Along,” “The Marines Hymn,” “Dixie,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and “Battle Hymn Of The Republic.”  “The Liberty Bell” march next in the program was composed by Sousa, who was often called “The Pied Piper of Patriotism..”  The band follows with an artistic setting of “America the Beautiful,” by Carmon Dragon.

The dedication to all the veterans comes next with the traditional “Armed Forces Salute,” arranged by Bob Lowden.  Dr. Moely said “this is where we first introduce each branch of our services and the war during which they served.  Each year we get less and less of W W I veterans.”    

The concert concludes with the band playing its own version of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, by Peter J. Wilhousky, arranged by James Nielson, followed the traditional closer of the July 4 concerts, America’s own March, “Stars and Stripes Forever,” by John Philip Sousa.    After this, instead of offering its usual encore, Dr. Moely asks all the veterans to come up on the stage, while taps is played so they can be a part the band on the stage as grand finale strains of the “Stars and Stripes Forever” is finally played as a special patriotic encore to close the concert. 


After the Wednesday,  July 4 Holiday double concerts at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., the band’s concert  season continues with weekly double concerts at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.,  the rest of the Sundays of the summer up to and then including Monday, Labor Day, September 3.