Sunday, June 7, 2009

Honoring the WWII Generation

From Tennessee Tech's Karen Lykins:

For Tennessee Tech University composer Greg Danner, the best way to honor our nation’s World War II generation is through music. His new symphony band composition, titled “The Greatest Generation” after Tom Brokaw’s testament to the people of the World War II era, will be premiered at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 17, at Nashville’s Millennium Maxwell House Hotel.

“Scored for narrator, the music sets the background for a reading of four soldiers’ letters that highlight the emotion of those difficult times and the victorious struggle to preserve our freedom,” Danner said. “For many young men, the carefree days of youth were abruptly interrupted by war.”

The soldiers’ letters to and from home were the thread that connected loved ones, and they illustrate examples of how the war interrupted individual lives. Danner’s composition captures this experience through the narration of the four soldiers’ letters:

• Art Nicholls’ letter to his mother demonstrates both the innocence of youth and the uncertainty of the times.
• John Lingenfelter, serving in the Navy from 1943 to the end of the war, left before his wife gave birth to their first child. His letter to his unseen daughter, Barbara Anne, is a beautiful and heart-warming message.
• Pvt. Alfred Birra, in a letter written to his wife shortly after D-Day, chronicles his personal experience landing at Normandy and participating in the epic battle that would lead to the collapse of Hitler’s Germany.
• And Dr. Robert Cromer’s reflective letter explores the qualities that made the World War II generation great and helped lead them to build the nation we have today.

The premiere of the piece will be at the annual meeting of the American School Band Directors Association, and the Hendersonville High School Symphony Band, conducted by Jeff Phillips, will perform. Sgt. Richard Griffin, of the Tennessee Army National Guard Band, will serve as narrator. For more information about the performance, log on to Danner's web site at