It is such a stir, in fact, that the Greater Cleveland Concert Band has been invited to participate in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War commemoration in that city in June 2013.
Such an invitation is a great honor, one befitting of the local group of musicians whose dedication to the arts, history and heritage has given local residents yet another reason to take great pride in “The City With Spirit.”
GCCB, as some have grown to know it, traditionally performs two concerts per year. One is normally a heavily attended Christmas performance. But the most recent, held in late April, brought a special remembrance to the families of Cleveland and Bradley County. It told of a time and a place where local residents were torn. Their allegiance was sorely test. Some favored the Confederacy. Others sided with the blue-clad Union troops.
The spring concert was titled, “April 1865 — One Nation Under God.” Through orchestrated music, narration and a video background, the performance told the story of the impact of Cleveland and Bradley County on this grave War Between the States which split families, pitted brother against brother and left bloody battlefields littered with hundreds of thousands casualties of war. The thousands of fallen wore grey and blue.
“April 1865 — One Nation Under God” captured the attention of planners of the Washington commemoration because of the story it told. GCCB conductor Don Bindrim best describes the message of the thought-provoking, often emotional performance.
“The story is about the effort to find common ground and to rebuild a broken nation after the end of the American Civil War, as told from the historical perspective of Cleveland and Bradley County, Tennessee,” Bindrim told our newspaper in a “Hidden Cleveland” interview published in the May 21 edition.
He added, “This is a program not about the victor and the vanquished, but about a nation coming together once again. [This is the story] of a people finding common ground where war once defined differences, and compromise and cooperation are fired across lines instead of bullets and cannon balls.”
It is told from the perspective of the local community whose families were undecided about which side to defend and which to serve.
It is little wonder such a locally-developed history would capture the heart of a national stage such at that in Washington ... because it tells the story of a hometown and how the people of that community dealt with division, bitterness and personal loss.
Local concert band members are already planning for the trip. A fundraiser is expected soon to help local musicians with travel expenses. The trip will include a short performance at Gettysburg National Military Park. It will be followed by a full presentation at the Magestic Theater.
Much of the event arrangement is being handled in Washington by the National Park Service.
“They told me they were interested because our performance was the story of our town,” Bindrim explained.
It is a fitting story and one deserving to be told on such a national stage because this was the Civil War, a nightmarish conflict that divided a nation at its heart, tested family values and brought unprecedented anguish to those on both sides.
We congratulate current conductor Don Bindrim, GCCB founder and former conductor R.G. Wolf — an 84-year-old musician who still performs with the concert band — and the entire group of talented artists whose love of music has made it impossible to leave behind their instruments of beauty.
The Greater Cleveland Concert Band is yet another shining example of the spirit that resides within our hometown.
We hope fans and followers will support GCCB members when the Washington, D.C., fundraiser is launched.