First annual Veterans Day concert takes stage

%0AMembers+of+the+NMU+University+Choir+and+Arts+Chorale+sing+during+the+inaugural++Veterans+Day+concert.+%0APhoto+by+Jacob+Darner

Members of the NMU University Choir and Arts Chorale sing during the inaugural Veterans Day concert. Photo by Jacob Darner

Mary McDonough

People of all ages packed into any spare seat in sight at the Reynolds Recital Hall. Students, community members and
residents of the Jacobetti Home for veterans awaited an afternoon of music, history and gratitude with the NMU University Choir and Arts Chorale in the inaugural
Veterans Day Concert.

Music paid tribute to veterans of every major American war, providing a timeline from their fight for independence all the way to the Iraq War with the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day and the end of World War I.

Opening the concert in patriotic fashion, the entire hall
joined by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” accompanied by Jeff Bruning on piano and
Far North Brass.

Conductor and Assistant Music Professor Erin Colwitz, brought the idea for a tribute concert
after taking part in a similar event at the University of Alabama-Huntsville and saw it as not only a tribute to the nation’s veterans but also many of NMU’s students who have served.
“We honor them through our music,” Colwitz said. “It’s the best way we know how.”

The first number was a piece from the Revolutionary Era called “Euroclydon.” It was performed with students standing in a square facing each other, as it was
historically done in any 1700’s church.

Colwitz first came up with the idea three years ago and upon hearing it, senior communications major Megan O’Connor has been involved. The detailed planning time fit in O’Connor’s schedule through a directed study this semester focusing in large event planning.

“It couldn’t have gone any better,” O’Connor said. “It’s more than I could have imagined.”

In between each historical
section of music, veterans from various branches, some NMU alumni, spoke to the crowd,
sharing their experiences of their service, encouraging people to give back to veterans and thanked other fellow servicemen and women in the audience.

Senior photography major and student veteran Traci Deitz was presented with the Presidential Coin by state Rep. Sara Cambensy. The award is the highest honor that can be given to a veteran
in the state of Michigan. Deitz also earned the NMU Alumni Coin, presented by President
Fritz Erikson.

Colwitz explained that having a concert at this point in the year is earlier than usual, but the hard work shows through after hours of rehearsals since the beginning of the semester.

As a way to thank all of those who served, the choir and audience joined voices once again at the end to sing the specific songs of every Armed Forces branch, asking those who served to stand and be recognized.

Junior sports science major Rachel Loman said being able to participate in a such a personal military tribute is very personal and seeing all the smiles from the audience when they recognize the lyrics, makes it all so very special.

“I had both my grandfathers who are veterans out in the crowd tonight,” Loman said. “It means the world to be able to give them the recognition they deserve.”