Uncle Sam

The Long Bay Symphony wants to honor veterans with a look back at the music from this country's wars starting with the Revolution.

Long Bay Symphony advocate Joanne Milnor had three dreams for the symphony after she became engaged with it.

One was a Strauss concert – done! The second was a Gullah concert – done!

Third was a patriotic concert to celebrate Veterans Day – soon to be done! And the best part of it is, one of the three concerts featuring music from this country’s wars all the way from the Revolution to modern times will be performed in Conway.

Everybody’s favorites will be there, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree, God Bless America, Yankee Doodle, Over There, God Bless the USA all the way up to Peter Paul and Mary’s Leaving on a Jet Plane.

“It’s just a wonderful patriotic concert to honor the veterans, and great music as well. I think it’d be great for families,” said Long Bay Symphony music director/conductor Dr. Charles Jones Evans.

There will also be vocals with some of the music. Of course, World War II music isn’t complete without the Andrews Sisters.

About 30 musicians from the symphony will perform three patriotic tributes.

The first War and Peace concert will be Nov. 9 at 3 p.m. in Howard Auditorium on Hawkins Street in Georgetown; the second will be in Conway Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. in First Methodist Church on Fifth Avenue; and the third will be that same day at 5:30 p.m. in St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church on 33rd Ave. Ext. North in Myrtle Beach.

The concert is free for veterans and $10 for everyone else.

Milnor said when she pitched her idea to the symphony board they immediately agreed, with one condition, that her crew come up with enough money to fund the three performances. They got right to work and quickly came up with eight sponsors.

Sponsors were allowed to pick a veteran, living or dead, whose name will be read in connection with the music from his or her era. Some might even be in the audience, Milnor said. There will also be the armed forces tribute to all veterans.

Milnor couldn’t be happier.

“First of all, Charles is really great at doing this and he contacted Larkin Spivey and…he’s going to be the narrator and so for each section of tunes…there’ll be a narrative there,” she said.

Some of the stories will come from true remembrances, bringing real world stories from people who actually lived them.

JROTC units from local high schools will also be there to present the colors and some war re-enactors will also expected to be on stage at times.

Planners are trying to keep each performance within an hour.

Milnor, who previously worked with the Horry County Historical Society, says she formed relationships with many Conwayites when she worked with that group, and she can’t wait to bring the symphony back to Conway where, she points out, there are lots of veterans.

“So we want to go right to their front door so they don't have to get in their car and drive over there (Myrtle Beach High School Auditorium where the group usually preforms.),” she said.

She says Vietnam veterans will start the performance when there will be the playing of Taps.

“Everyone is going to boo-hoo,” she said. “I’m going to bring a box of Kleenex with me.”

John Zipko, a veteran and member of the War and Peace committee, is one of the solicitors who helped land the needed sponsors.

He said he was collecting for the Myrtle Beach American Legion Post in front of Sam’s Club recently when Milnor approached him saying he might be just the one she needed.

“She told me her idea and what Long Bay was going to do and I said, ‘I’m with you. Just let me know what has to be done,’” he said.

He and his wife got right to work lining up sponsors.

The Vietnam-era veteran said in past years he didn’t have a lot of time to join organizations, but after he moved to Myrtle Beach from Pennsylvania he jumped right in. His first task was helping start the Myrtle Beach American Legion Post. He’s also spent time working with the Scents of Soldiers that collects whatever wounded soldiers need including toothpaste, toothbrushes, after-shave lotions etc. The group has been as far as Washington to distribute its collections. They have also brought wounded veterans to this area for fun and relaxation.

“…I do anything that I can for the veterans, so when this was presented to me it was another way I could help,” he said, referring to the patriotic concert.

Zipko says they’ll have a statue of Uncle Sam at the concerts, and there’ll be no charge to take a selfie with it, but anyone who chooses can leave a donation that will go to a needy veterans organization.

Zipko says the War and Peace concert is going to be awesome. All the songs are “spot on” and everybody’s going to really enjoy them.

“Well it’s just something to thank the veterans, especially with the world situation the way it is. This is a time to unite and not have partisanship. This way we’re thanking all the veterans and giving them a day out and putting on a show for them,” he said.

Ray Heider, president of the symphony’s board of directors, said a major focus of the board is to explore ways to reach a wider and more diverse audience, and this is just one thing they’ve done that fits that category.

They actually considered a patriotic concert this past year because of the anniversary of World War I, but just didn’t have time to pull it together; this year is different.

He points out that the music in this concert will not be “concert symphonic repertoire of note”, but will include things like The Stars and Stripes Forever and music from Saving Private Ryan.

“I think the program’s shaping up very well,” Heider said. “One of the things that constantly surprises us is the fact that this is our 32nd year as a professional symphony organization…and they’re still many, many, many people who’ve never heard of us, don’t even know we exist in the Horry County area.”

Heider says all it takes for someone to be hooked on the symphony is to hear it.

Calling himself the symphony’s biggest fan, he said, “If you come out to something like this and you hear this American patriotic music, you’ll hear how good the musicians are, and when you hear 80 it’s much better.”

Evans says the purpose of the concert is simply to honor the veterans and celebrate Veterans Day. He expects a really large crowd and points out that the Conway venue will have the smallest seating capacity of the three, so he encourages people to get their tickets now.

Milnor says helping with this concert has been a walk down memory lane for her because the Andrews Sisters were “really big time” with her family. When she was a very young girl, she says, they had a hand-cranking record player suitable for 78 records so when they picnicked at the park they took that machine and listening to The Andrews Sisters while they were enjoying days in the woods.

“I’m just psyched that this is going to happen,” she said.

Tickets must be reserved in advance. Call (843) 448-8379 or visit www.LongBaySymphony.com.

Sponsors of the concert are AVX, Myrtle Beach Jeep, Myrtle Beach Kia, Walmart, Waccamaw Community Foundation, Carolina Cool and Conway National Bank.

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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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