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9/11 Memorial Concert - Hagerstown City Park, September 11, 2016

This is a picture of the New Horizons Band and their invited guests who performed the 9/11 Memorial Concert in the Hagerstown City Park. It was presented on September 11, 2016 which is the 15th anniversary of the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA. The following article about the event appeared in the September 8, 2016, issue The Herald Mail in Hagerstown, MD

Chris Bonebrake has a military background that likely informs his diligence in paying tribute to first responders, law-enforcement officers and military veterans.

But it is his skillfulness with military music and his role as band director that he will use to lead others to pay tribute at New Horizons Concert Band of Hagers-town’s 9/11 Memorial Concert at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Peter Buys Band Shell in Hagerstown’s City Park. The concert will mark the 15th anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

“I was drafted into the service in 1969. I went in as an Army bandsman,” Bonebrake said. “I went to the U.S. Army School of Music and graduated from there.”

He served in various Army bands in Washington, D.C., and later in Germany for a year and a half, he said, with saxophone as his principal instrument. After his time in the military, Bonebrake, now 67, had a career in business for nearly 30 years before returning to music.

“First of all, I love military band music. I’ve studied it all my life,” he said. “We have a band library with an extensive collection of American and patriotic music. One of my hobbies is listening to band music, so I started to pull out music from the library.” 

He said he selected about 15 pieces he thought would be appropriate for a 9/11 remembrance. Bonebrake and band co-director Larry Weber chose about 10 pieces for an hour-long memorial concert playlist. A highlight of the concert will be “Flight of Valor,” a roughly 6-minute piece written by American composer James Swearingen that premiered at a first-anniversary memorial concert in Somerset, Pa., to honor the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed during the attacks. 

“It was written to describe in musical terms what (Swearingen) thought might have happened or gone on during that flight. It has some very heroic music in it, a very chaotic part illustrating what might have been happening on the plane and some very reverent, hymn-like music. That’s our centerpiece,” Bonebrake said. 

Performing the piece has special significance to Weber, who lived in Somerset County near Shanksville, Pa., when the plane crashed. Weber produced a concert observing the first anniversary of the event, Bonebrake said. 

Other compositions at the City Park 9/11 Memorial Concert will include “Captain America March,” “Always United, Forever Strong,” “Amazing Grace,” “God Bless America” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” 

Concert organizers extended special invitations to first responders, firefighters, police officers and military veterans, and to city and county officials. A veterans of Washington County honor guard will open the concert with a presentation of the colors, Bonebrake said. 

Ten or 15 military veterans will be playing with the band, which is comprised of about 65 musicians from the Washington County area. Alto saxophonist Harold Angle served in the military during World War II with the U.S. Army Infantry and was involved in the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, Bonebrake said. 

The concert will feature retired military chaplain Richard Bowers of Hagerstown as narrator to provide contextual information about each of the pieces. For example, Bonebrake said, while many people know that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is the national anthem of the United States, fewer people are aware that John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” was designated by an act of Congress in 1987 as the national march of the United States, he said.

“When we play concerts, we want people to know a little about the history of the songs,” Bonebrake said. 

He hopes the concert will provide inspiration to attendees, he said. 

“We want to give people an opportunity to come out of their home and to socialize in City Park like people did 150 years ago when Sousa was writing music. It gives people a chance to pay tribute to other people who lost their lives so we can have the freedoms that we have today. Whether those people are civilians, military or law enforcement, all of them dedicate their lives every day, so this is our way of saying ‘thank you’ and of paying tribute,” Bonebrake said.” 

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