Academy Band brings 'Music to the Meadows'

Tech. Sgt. Nancy Poffenbarger and Master Sgt. Randall Ward perform "Mary Poppins Medley" during an Air Force Academy Band concert in Castle Rock, Colo., July 21, 2010. The Academy Band's performance was the first of Castle Rock's 2010 Music in the Meadows series. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

Tech. Sgt. Nancy Poffenbarger and Master Sgt. Randall Ward perform "Mary Poppins Medley" during an Air Force Academy Band concert in Castle Rock, Colo., July 21, 2010. The Academy Band's performance was the first of Castle Rock's 2010 Music in the Meadows series. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

Tech. Sgts. John Dawson and Ryan Janus and Master Sgt. Sandra Tiemens perform on tin whistles during the Air Force Academy Band's performance in Castle Rock, Colo., July 21, 2010. The free concert drew about 1,100 residents from the town, which is about 30 miles north of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

Tech. Sgts. John Dawson and Ryan Janus and Master Sgt. Sandra Tiemens perform on tin whistles during the Air Force Academy Band's performance in Castle Rock, Colo., July 21, 2010. The free concert drew about 1,100 residents from the town, which is about 30 miles north of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- After a seasonal Colorado afternoon thunderstorm, menacing clouds yielded to a bright sun that brought droves of concert patrons to listen to the Air Force Academy Band perform a free concert here July 21.

Attracting approximately 1,100 people, the event kicked off Castle Rock's 2010 "Music in the Meadows" concert series and dished up a wide variety of musical styles to offer something for everyone in the diverse audience.

The band's patriotic program, "American Pageant," saluted the men and women in our armed forces, honored our veterans, and celebrated our country's rich, cosmopolitan way of life through a diversity of musical selections.

"I really like the wide variety of musical selections," said Tom Wulf of Castle Rock.

"It is great to have this band performing here tonight," Castle Rock resident Joyce Havens added. "We all need to honor the men and women in our armed forces the way they do."

Featured throughout the evening were the Academy Band's singers. Tech. Sgt. Crissy Saalborn had the crowd toe-tapping to the classic, swing favorite "Route 66," and Tech. Sgt. Nancy Poffenbarger's rendition of "Art is Calling" from Victor Herbert's comic opera "The Enchantress" displayed her vocal virtuosity and provided some diva-esque antics as well.

Master Sgt. Randy Ward's singing of the always solemn "Shenandoah" provided a poignant moment and a beautiful accompaniment to the fast approaching, splendid Colorado sunset.

An audience favorite was the band's "Elvis Medley" featuring Master Sgt. Tim Allums as the king of Rock and Roll.

Tech. Sgt. Marcel Marchetti's trumpet solo "Virgin de la Macarena" was a true musical tour de force that conjured up the spirit of a Spanish matador and had the exuberant crowd shouting, "¡Ole!"

The band also performed selections from treasured movie soundtracks such as John Williams' "E.T." and the Disney classic "Mary Poppins."

The evening's climax featured the talents of the audience in a patriotic sing-along, the playing of all the Armed Forces' songs and a rousing performance of our national march, John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Castle Rock resident Bill Yokley and his wife Bridget applauded enthusiastically, as did many others in the audience.

"I think the image the band projects is great for the Air Force. The phenomenal quality of the music reflects the outstanding quality that can be found at the Air Force Academy," Mr. Yokley said.

The energetic crowd brought Commander and Conductor Lt. Col. Larry Lang back out to lead the band in an encore performance of legendary Army-Air Corps Band leader Glenn Miller's "In the Mood."

Concert patron Veronica Marquez summed up the evening, saying, "This is beautiful and absolutely amazing!"