Band to honor soldiers at Vietnam memorial

Freehold Township H.S. musicians have enjoyed busy schedule this year

BY AMY ROSEN Staff Writer

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – The members of the Freehold Township High School band have been busy making music for all to hear during the 2007-08 school year and they are not ready to stop yet.

"We start in late summer with marching band camp and play at several festivals, parades and football games throughout the fall. The band also competes in one competition," band director Edward Gattsek explained.

When marching band season ends, the members of the Freehold Patriots leave their uniforms behind and symphonic band begins. Shows include the holiday concert and other venues in the community.

"This year the holiday brass ensemble played with the Battleground Chorus in a concert at the First Baptist Church in Freehold," Gattsek said.

He went on to say that on April 18 Freehold Township High School will host the All-Shore Concert Band Festival during which eight bands from area high schools (including Freehold Township, Manalapan, Howell and Jackson) will play.

"The All-Shore Concert Band Festival is a great way to establish camaraderie between the band members, and it gives the students the opportunity to get to know each other," Gattsek said.

The public is invited to attend the band’s spring concert, which will be held April 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Freehold Township High School, 281 Elton-Adelphia Road. The jazz band and the symphonic band will perform. There is no charge to attend.

The band members are looking forward to April 29 when they will have the opportunity to perform a concert of patriotic music and other favorites at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel. The 11 a.m. concert, which is scheduled to last about 45 minutes, will be held on the upper level of the memorial and is free to the public. In the event of rain, the concert will take place on April 30.

According to Gattsek, the concert will consist of patriotic Sousa marches.

"The crux of the performance will be when they play ‘Heroes Lost and Fallen’ by David Gillingham," said Gattsek. "It’s a college-level piece, very difficult. I chose to be ambitious and try it with the kids, and they are doing great. I said to the kids, ‘What better place to play this than at the Vietnam memorial?’ I wanted the kids to have the experience of playing it at the memorial. It will be a unique experience and we are honored to have the opportunity to perform at the memorial for the first time."

The wind ensemble will perform May 2 in front of the Battle ofMonmouth monument at the Monmouth County Courthouse, Court Street, Freehold Borough, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The wind ensemble is made up of a select group of students who had to audition to be accepted.

The wind ensemble will also perform at Trinity Church in Asbury Park on May 7 at 8 p.m. The musicians will play major works including Mozart’s "Requiem," Bach’s C-minor Fugue, and several pieces by Alfred Reed, among others.

Freshman Sarah Bernard, a member of the wind ensemble, said, "It has been a really good experience being a part of the band this year. I was nervous and a little scared when I started, but I had a lot of fun because everyone was so nice. If something happens to you, everyone really cares and is there for you."

Sarah’s mother, Cara Bernard, said, "On the first day of band camp, Sarah was nervous, but after the first day, every little butterfly in her stomach was gone.Mr. Gattsek is really great and so are the band kids. They are all very supportive."

Gattsek was honored in March as Teacher of the Year for the 2008-09 school term. He was selected for the honor by the faculty members at Freehold Township High School.

Gattsek said, "My mom is a survivor [of breast cancer] and I feel compelled to act in that way."

According to Gattsek, 14 Freehold Township High School band students were accepted to theAll-Shore Symphonic Band this year. Gattsek said this was the largest number of students accepted from any single school and it is the third year in a row that Freehold Township has held that record. Many of those students were assigned solos as well.