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Air Force Band performs at Penn's Peak

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS The United States Air Force's Heritage of America Band performed at Penn's Peaks Sunday night courtesy of the TIMES NEWS.
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS The United States Air Force's Heritage of America Band performed at Penn's Peaks Sunday night courtesy of the TIMES NEWS.
Published March 22. 2010 05:00PM

The United States Air Force's Heritage of America Band Langley Air Force base in Virginia performed at Penn's Peaks Sunday night. The TIMES NEWS sponsored the free event.

The United States Air Force Heritage of America Band has a rich history of inspiring hearts and minds, building and sustaining American patriotism, and enhancing esprit de corps in the United States Air Force. It was one of the original Army Air Corps bands, created by order of the Secretary of War on October 1, 1941 and assigned to Barksdale Field, Louisiana. In June 1946, after a short stay at Brooks Field, Texas, the band arrived at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, its current home.

Hundreds of people were in the audience to enjoy the performance. Air Force Bands organize, train, and deploy professional Airman musicians, harnesses the power of music to inspire immediate, positive, and long-lasting impressions of the United States Air Force and the United States of America in the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide. The Heritage of America Band has deployed two bands in the past three years; "Heritage Aire Celtic Ensemble" in 2007, and the rock band "Blue Acres" recently in the spring of 2009. "Vector" will be deployed in the spring of 2010.

During the performance the band played many songs ranging from "A Night in Tunisia" to "What a Moonlight Will Do." The band's entertainment also consisted of vocals by some of its band members. Veterans in the audience were also asked to stand during the playing of their military branches song.

For more than half a century, the band has represented the Air Force with musical and military distinction. Members bring music to the mid-Atlantic in live concerts and to the nation in televised events such as The Today show and the DESERT STORM National Victory Parade, as well as presidential inaugural events. The Heritage of America Band has performed ceremonies for U.S presidents and foreign heads of state, including the Queen of England and the President of France. Using today's technology, the band reaches a world-wide audience through its website and compact disc recordings.

The band's 45 men and women are assigned to two primary ensembles: the USAF Heritage of America Concert Band and the Blue Aces popular music ensemble. The concert band breaks down into five smaller touring groups: the Heritage Brass Quintet, the Langley Winds woodwind quintet, Heritage Aire Celtic ensemble, Vector brass ensemble, and Satellite jazz and popular music ensemble. Each year, the band's components travel more than 30,000 miles to perform hundreds of concerts for listeners across a six-state region from Pennsylvania to South Carolina.

Since 2005, the mission of Air Force Bands has become an expeditionary one. The Blue Aces were among the first groups to tour Southwest Asia and the Horn of Africa to support coalition and Joint forces serving in the Global War on Terrorism. The group is now preparing for future deployments. The USAF Heritage of America Band's exceptional musicianship has earned international critical acclaim and numerous honors: eight Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, five Air Force Organizational Excellence Awards, three Colonel George S. Howard Citations of Musical Excellence for Military Concert Band, North Carolina's Order of the Long Leaf Pine, and countless state and municipal proclamations. Under the leadership of its commander and conductor, Second Lieutenant Rafael Toro-Quinones, the USAF Heritage of America Band remains at the forefront of preserving and enriching America's musical heritage in the 21st century.

The musical director and officer in charge during the performance, Air Force Master Sergeant Allen Wittig, stated their band's love of what they do and encouraged anyone to visit their website at . He continued by saying, "We are wholeheartedly committed to reflecting the diversity of our great nation. We actively encourage individuals from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds to learn about the Air Force and seek positions in the band program."

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