Marist Celebrates Veterans at Carnegie Hall Concert

Julia Fishman
An image of members of the Marist Band and ROTC participated in a Veterans Day concert

Members of the Marist Band and ROTC participated in a Veterans Day concert with Associate Professor of English Tommy Zurhellen as narrator and Director of Music Art Himmelberger as conductor.


November 26, 2019—On November 11, a contingent of 24 members of the Marist community—15 band musicians, seven U.S. Army ROTC Color Guard cadets, Director of Music Art Himmelberger, and Associate Professor of English Tommy Zurhellen—made a trip to one of New York City’s most storied locations, Carnegie Hall, to perform in an annual Veterans Day Concert.

Produced by Manhattan Concert Productions and programmed by The Memorial Concert Band of Colonie (for which Himmelberger serves as Music Director and Principal Conductor) the concert, titled “America the Beautiful: A Veterans Day Celebration,” honored the nation’s veterans through an evening of patriotic music. Himmelberger, an Army veteran, asked Zurhellen, a Navy veteran who raised more than $60,000 for veteran suicide and homelessness earlier this year, to participate. “Tommy’s completion of an amazing fundraising trek across America for veterans’ issues this year made him a natural choice to be the narrator for the production,” said Himmelberger.

Art Himmelberger during soundcheck at Carnegie Hall
Art Himmelberger during soundcheck at Carnegie Hall

For Zurhellen, it was a surreal experience. “I admit I have ZERO musical talent, so when you are given an opportunity to be a part of such an amazing performance at Carnegie Hall, you take it,” said Zurhellen. “It was certainly a humbling night for me. It was my first time at Carnegie Hall! Seeing the main Perelman stage from backstage was a breathtaking moment.”

In an evening full of big moments, a few rose to the top. “The part of the experience that stood out the most was the majesty of being in such an amazing venue where so many other great musicians have performed,” said clarinetist Will Link ’20, President of the Marist Band. “The acoustics are wonderful. We could really tell the sound we were putting out was top-quality and that the crowd loved the music we were playing.”

Tommy Zurhellen at Carnegie Hall
Tommy Zurhellen at Carnegie Hall

“My favorite moment of the evening was introducing each military branch’s official song as we asked veterans to stand as we played their branch of service,” said Zurhellen, who added that his favorite musical selection of the night was “Over There,” because he got to explain the World War I song’s history. “Art and the band did a fantastic job of bringing it to life.”

The 2,000-member audience, which included veterans and active duty military members from all service branches, gave the band two standing ovations. “That’s a rarity at Carnegie Hall,” noted Himmelberger. “Our Marist contingent augmented the Memorial Concert Band that was supported by a 200-voice choir.”

But, ultimately, the evening was about the veterans. “The vets in audience represented a wide range of ages: we had World War II veterans and even an active duty sailor wearing his dress blues,” said Zurhellen. “After the show, I went into the audience and shook hands with every veteran I could. They all said they had an uplifting evening listening to the patriotic standards.”

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