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Northwinds brings annual patriotic pops concert to Smithgall Arts Center
Northwinds Symphonic Band

America, the Beautiful

What: Northwinds Symphonic Band presents annual patriotic pops concert
When: 8 p.m. July 3, with gates open at 6 p.m.
Where: The Arts Council Smithgall Arts Center lawn, 313 Spring St., Gainesville
How much: Adults $18, students $15, seniors 65 and older $15, table of eight $194
More info: 770-534-2787 or

Patriotism will once again fill the air in Gainesville the night before Independence Day.

The Northwinds Symphonic Band and guest performers present an annual concert at 8 p.m. July 3 on the lawn of The Arts Council Smithgall Arts Center.

“It will be a wonderful evening of music,” said Mercer Crook, conductor for the Northwinds band. “I think it just brightens everybody’s outlook when you’re playing “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “God Bless the USA,” all those type of songs.”

Crook, who was band director at East Hall High School for more than 30 years, said the annual concert has been a fixture in Gainesville for decades, starting with the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra and later, Northwinds. Crook played oboe and English horn during his time as a performer with both the orchestra and the symphonic band.

Much of the night will feature patriotic music.

Soloist Michelle Martin will sing “America, The Beautiful” as the band plays.

The band will perform “The Star Spangled Spectacular,” featuring the music of George Cohan.

Jonathan Jackson will sing “God Bless the USA.”

There will be a musical recognition for all of the branches of the military.

“We do a tribute to the armed forces with all the members, former members and family getting to stand during each of the songs — Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines,” he said.

There will be a salute to the Big Band leader Glenn Miller with a selection his tunes. Miller and his band entertained military troops during World War II.

“It will be very nostalgic,” Crook said.

Crook said the concert will feature performances by Cecil Welch, who was the former lead trumpet player for the Henry Mancini Orchestra.

“He’s played for us before,” Crook said of Welch. Crook added that Welch will perform a Mancini piece titled “Hoagy,” one of two selections in the concert arranged by Gainesville resident Tom Wallace.

And there is a tribute to “Gone with the Wind” in a selection called “Tara’s Theme.”

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins will read a 1962 speech by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, “Duty, Honor, Country,” according to Crook.
After performing and conducting for many years, Crook said he believes the concert remains important.

“I think now, more than ever, patriotism in this country needs to be brought out, put in the forefront and especially for our younger generation to know how important being a patriot in this country is,” he said.

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