Music director Steven Reineke led a perfectly respectable concert with the help of The Soldiers’ Chorus of The U.S. Army Field Band (First Lieutenant Alexandra Borza, Associate Bandmaster), a robust ensemble that proved itself song after song, including several songs in which soloists emerged to sing as in Barry Manilow’s “Let Freedom Ring” and the Toby Keith/Chuck Cannon “American Soldier.”
There was the “Star Spangled Banner” (John Stafford Smith/Francis Scott Key) and music from several film scores by the ubiquitous John Williams such as “Call of the Champions.” Richard Rodgers’ “Victory at Sea” score was wonderful, but went on too long.
Suddenly, toward the end of the concert, Reineke and his colleagues hit emotional pay dirt in four songs that were beautifully performed and hit all the right nerves.
Len Cariou, guest artist, sang a straight-forward, conversational “I’ll Be Seeing You” (Sammy Fain/Irving Kahal) which went far beyond simple nostalgia to aching longing. Then, as Aaron Copland’s “Letter from Home” was played, three soloists from the Chorus read letters from soldiers which were heartbreaking, particularly since the final one was from a soldier who died in Iraq. The brass-filled “Hymn to the Fallen” (John Williams) from Saving Private Ryan was stirring. The final number of this touching foursome was a medley of the theme songs of each of the armed forces. As each played, members of the appropriate armed force stood, many clearly in their seventies and eighties and some in their uniforms.
As they say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
The vibrant concert ended with a sing-along of “America the Beautiful” (Samuel Augustus Ward).
The New York Pops: “Concert for Courage” (November 11, 2016)
Carnegie Hall, 154 West 57th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-247-7800 or visit http://www.carnegiehall.org
Running time: two hours including one intermission