Feature Articles

More than 5,000 attend Overture 1812 Concert at the Washington Monument

Aug 19, 2010

By Adrienne Combs, Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Military District of Washington

The Washington Monument Grounds took on a festive atmosphere while more than 5,000 people listened to a variety of musical genres culminating with the classic Overture 1812 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky performed by The U. S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" at their annual Overture 1812 Concert on Aug. 17, at the Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument Grounds.

The concert featured The U.S. Army Concert Band, Chorus, and Herald Trumpets led by Col. Thomas Rotondi, Jr., commander of The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own." Featured soloists during the evening were Staff Sgt. Nadia Pessoa, who played a harp solo piece entitled Brazilian Holiday; Sgt lst Class Leigh Ann Hinton, soprano who sang a selection of songs from various Disney movies called "Disney Magic"; Master Sgt. Antonio Giuliano, tenor and Master Sgt. Alec Maly, bass sang solos in a presentation called "Songs of the Soldier"; and Sgt 1st Class Neil Ewachiw, baritone sang "America the Beautiful."

Veterans and active duty service members participated in the "Service Medley" sung by the Army Chorus and played the by the Concert Band by standing when their service song was played.

The powerful finale was the spectacular Tchaikovsky's Overture 1812. Overture 1812 was composed for the 1880 Kremlin Square celebration honoring the Russian victory over the French Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812. Today the overture is revered among concert goers--from its playful, mocking themes from the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, to the powerful finale with ringing church bells and booming cannons proclaiming victory!

The Overture 1812 finale included explosive cannon fire by the Presidential Salute Battery of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). The Presidential Salute Battery, equipped with four three-inch 5,775-pound World War II vintage anti-tank guns, fired 75mm blank shells with one-and-a-half pounds of gunpowder. A total of 23 shots were fired, including the final volley from all four cannons.