By W.L.UNDERWOOD, Record News Staff Writer
Wichitans filled their Memorial Auditorium to capacity Sunday afternoon for one of the greatest events in the city's musical history when the Royal Air Force Symphonic Band from England appeared in concert under auspices of the Sheppard Field command and the Wichita Falls Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Wing Commander R.P.O'Donnell, M.V.O., presented 103 pieces comprising a full military band established more than 20 years ago, and a full-strength symphonic orchestra organized more than four years ago. It was the most imposing and thrilling assembly of instruments ever presented in Wichita Falls. Fervid response of the 3,300 persons present eloquently proclaimed the program fully commensurate with the numerical magnitude of the renowned company.
The Sheppard Field Public Relations Office, in charge of Capt.Porter L.Oakes, and the local Jaycees were in charge of all arrangements for the concert. Wing Commander O'Donnell was introduced by Mayor W.B.Hamilton, who emphasized the fact that the visiting ensemble was not a group hastily put together for this tour, but is the official band of the Royal Air Force of England augmented by addition of a large symphony orchestra. Program numbers were introduced by Pilot Officer John Hollingsworth, native of London, and assistant conductor of the band. This officer, it was learned, was born in London in 1916 "to the sound of bursting German bombs."
No doubt remained as to the enthusiasm with which Wichita Falls received the notable musical performance. The veteran conductor received a prolonged ovation after final encores had been given. Scores of Wichitans waited in the auditorium to shake his hand personally, and at least 150 civilians awaited his exit before the building, cameras in hand, in order to obtain permanent souvenirs of the memorable occasion.
Under the easy but compelling direction of Wing Commander O'Donnell, the program made the most of both the symphony and the military band as independent units, and of the symphonic band which they formed for other numbers.
Amazing tonal resources of the symphony were revealed impressively in the Dvorak "Carneval overture" with which the program opened. Musical proficiency of the organization, collectively and individually, was evidenced delightfully through the graceful restraint with which the conductor obtained perfect articulation of parts, brilliant climaxes, and immaculate shading.
The "Seafarer Rahphsody" of Haydn Wood abounded in lilting folk tunes and jigs, many drawn from the traditional Irish, along with familiar bits of sea chanteys. Elgar's "Serenade" for strings alone was impeccably intoned, with recurrent swells and recessions. It was sheer poesy. Pianissimo diminuendo received a new definition in its closing passages.
Soloist for the afternoon was LAC Frederick Grinke, Canadian by birth, who prior to the war was head of the famous Boyd-Neel string orchestra, an English company widely popular throughout Europe. His enactment of the Pugnani-Kreisler "Praeludium and Allegro," with symphonic support, was brilliant in every respect.
The concert reached its first exciting climax in the "Pomp and Circumstance" fourth march (Elgar) with full-throated brasses having their inning and exploiting its exultantly.
Popular response was picked up without diminution after the intermission with the Rossini "William Tell" overture. The symphonic theme was restored through the presentation of Smetana's "Symphonic Poem", after which the afternoon reached its musical heights in a thrilling exposition of Bach's "Toccata and Fugue" in D-minor. It was an overwhelming demonstration of the Bach capacity to challenge the most inspired and expansive instrumentation which can be assembled.
As encores, both the United States and England were given illustrious salutes. After the playing of Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" came the RAF March. Similar reciprocity was notable in the prelude which followed Mayor Hamilton's presentation of the visiting company. With the audience standing, "Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Save the King" were played with contagious feeling.
Saturday night's concert at Theater No.3 at Sheppard Field was the RAF band's first appearance in this community. More than 1,300 soldiers filled the hall, while many others were turned away. Maj. Alf Heiberg, officer in charge of all United States Army Air Forces bands, conducted the "RAF March" and Commander O'Donnell responsed by conducting the AAF song.
After another theater concert and one at the Sheppard Field hospital, the famous English organization will entrain at 5:25 o'clock Monday afternoon for Luke Field, Ariz.
The Royal Air Force Symphonic Band visiting Wichita Falls and Sheppard Field this week-end presents a "magnificent" performance, according to word received at Sheppard Field Friday from Lt.Gen.Barton K.Yount, head of the Army Air Forces Training Command, who attended a concert by the band last week.
Commenting that "music is the backbone of morale," General Yount praised the high caliber of the band as a symphonic organization "typical of the great country it represents."
"The RAF Band is a really serious musical organization, with the highest professional standards," he said. "As a symphonic band or a symphony organization, its performance is magnificent."
This 108-member musical organization, comprised of artists recruited from the cream of Britain's talent, will be presented in concert at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Memorial Auditorium here. Sponsoring its appearance in Wichita Falls is the Junior Chamber of Commerce, which made arrangements with Sheppard Field authorities for the concert. Wichita Falls is one of only 27 cities in the country which will have the privilege of hearing the famous band, now on a nation-wide tour under the terms of a reciprocal agreement by which the AAF Band is on a similar tour in the United Kingdom. The purpose of the tour is to play primarily for AAF personnel, but concerts for civilians are being played through special arrangements.
A civilian delegation led by Clint Broday, Jaycee president, will join military authorities in greeting the distinguished visitors upon their arrival at the railroad station here at 11:59 a.m. Saturday.
General Yount was visiting Maxwell Field, Ala., on official business last week when the RAF Band there. He attended a concert as the guest of Brig. Gen. William S. Gravely, commanding general of the AAF Eastern Flying Trainning Command.
"Some people may wonder what music has to do with winning a war. It has to do with it," said General Yount. "Music is the backbone of morale. It strengthens the moral fiber of the singer, the player, the listener. As part of the way of life we are fighting for, it helps supply the added courage necessary to win.
"The music of the RAF Band is typical of the great country represents, and no one who hears it can fail to be inspired with good will toward our ally and appreciation of our common high ideals. I am very glad that many of our training command personnel and our good neighbors in adjacent cities are having the opportunity of hearing these solended concerts."
Arrangements have been made for the Wichita Falls concert with the feeling that the auditorium will be filled, and all music-lovers in this and adjacent communities are urged to take advantage of the opportunity to hear these world famous artists.
Robin Field is getting ready to blow the top right off the operations hangar with the biggest New Year's party in the South, for all employes and military personnel stationed on the field. The gala event will be held Saturday night, Dec. 30, from 8 to12, and it's free.
The party, announced by Col. Thomas H. Chapman, commanding officer of the Warner Robins Air Technical Service Command, will have more entertainment features than a five-ring circus, and is expected to attract thousands of soldiers and civilian employes.
"Those in charge of planning the party are taking into account every possible taste in entertainment," Colonel Chapman said, "and I guarantee that every person who attends will have such a good time that he will not soon forget it."
The Royal Air Force Band, touring the U.S. as guests of General Henry H. Arnold, is an example of the type of entertainment that will be found at the party. This musical aggregation of 105 enlisted men, supporting six tons of instruments, has been obtained for the party through special arrangements with the War Department in Washington.
The famous RAF band is appearing at selected stations in the United States through a reciprocal arrangement made between General Arnold and Sir Charles Portal which provides for the appearance of the Army Air Forces Band in RAF installations in the United Kingdom.
In addition to the RAF concert there will be conventional dancing to the Robins Field orchestra while another orchestra will play for square dancing. The operations hangar floor will be waxed, for dancing, special decorations will be evident and the temperature will be held at a comfortable degree.
Galaxy of Talent
Other entertainment features to augment the concerts and dancing will introduce a galaxy of Robins Field talent both professional and amateur with performances on a stage constructed for this outstanding occasion.
The Post Exchange will operate booths where refreshments will be available to all merry-makers attending the party. Seats will be provided for persons who desire to watch the entertainment.
Transportation will be provided between Warner Robins, the Residence Halls and Cantonment Area, and the scene of the party both before and after the celebration.
The RAF concert band is coming to Robins Field tomorrow! Robins Field is groomed and ready to celebrate the dawn of 1945 with a mammoth party and dance tomorrow night that will eclipse all parties of its kind ever held here. The celeration will begin at 8 p.m. in the Operations hangar and the festivities will continue without a pause until 12 p.m. or later. All civilian employes and military personnel are invited along with their families.
Sharing the spotlight with dancing, the famous Royal Air Force Band will give a concert that will be long remembered. With 105 members, the RAF Band is visiting a limited number of military installations in the United States on an exchange arrangement in which tha Army Forces band is playing in the United Kingdom.
The RAF Band was formed nearly 25 years ago but since the war many musicians joined the organization and a symphony group was added to the military band section. Both units will be featured at the Robins Field party.
Bleacher Seats Available
A huge stage will be constructed to accommodate the entire band while a smaller stand will be used by the Robins Field 14-piece dance orchestra. The hangar will be decorated and special arrangements have been made to wax the floor to provide a fine dancing surface.
Both chairs and bleacher seats will be available for spectators and two refreshment booths will be operated by the Post Exchange. In addition to the program by the visiting British band and conventional dancing, there will be square dancing with music by Ray Melton's Rhythm Makers, as well as other features.
Col. Thomas H. Chapman, commanding officer of the Warner Robins Air Technical Service Command, will make a few remarks of welcome and the newly elected officers of the Robins Field Welfare Association will be introduced.
British Musicians Guests
The British musicians will be special guests at the party and will be invited to join in the dancing and other entertainment. The Junior Hostess groups are cooperating in arranging entertainment for the guests.
Special buses will operate through the cantonment area to transport enlisted men to the hangar while other buses will serve the Residence Hall area in Warner Robins. An extra police force will be on hand to facilitate the parking of private vehicles in the lot behind WRATSC headquarters building.
Because of the enormous crowd of merrymakers expected at the party, badges will be checked so that admittance will be limited to the WRATSC family and military personnel. Officials in charge of the event said that smoking will be prohibited in the hangar.
A gala evening is promised for all. Don't miss it!
The British musicians will give a concert at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the Macon Auditorium. The appearance in Macon is being sponsored by the Macon War Finance committee and is in the nature of a tribute to Macon citizens for the part they have taken in furthering the war effort by buying War...
An English accent on music will be introduced to Maconites when the 105-piece Royal Air Force Band and symphony orchestra gives a concert at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 31 in the City Auditorium, under the auspices of the Macon War Finance Committee through arrangements made with the War Department by Col. Thomas H. Chapman, commanding officer of the Warner Robins Air Technical Service Command. T. I. Denmark is chairman of the local committee.
This body of leading instrumentalists, under the direction of Wing Commander R. P. O'Donnell, will present a program which will be representative of those played for personnel of the Royal Air Force in England, including compositions by English Composers Eric Coats, Sullivan and Elgar, and also selections from the Tschaikowsky's Serenade For Strings, a Russian composition. The British rendition of this music is sure to provide a delightful contrast to our familiar American style.
Noted music critic, Glenn Dillard Gunn, acclaimed this unique musical organization at their first performance in Washington, D.C., emphasizing the unusual tone quality of the military elements of the ensemble and praising the symphony unit for "subtle nuance and musicianly restraint."
An unusual program, like this, with a British flavor will, through melody, tend to further good-will between this country and our English speaking ally.
The RAF band is on a tour of Army Air Forces station in the U. S. as guests of General Henry H. Arnold in the interest of war bond sales. The band will appear in Macon, not as a reward, but in appreciation of what the citizens of Bibb county have done and will do, and the War Finance Committee has invited all Maconites to attend the concert.
A royal welcome to these Royal Air Force musicians would be the public announcement Sunday, Dec. 31 -the final day of the Sixth War Loan- that Bibb county had exceeded its E bond quota of $1,300,000. Today, citizens of Bibb county have purchased a total of $1,226,800 E bonds.
Robins Field employes and millitary personnel will celebrate the New Year at a mammoth party Saturday night in the field's operations hangar, according to an announcement by Col. Thomas H. Chapman, commanding officer of the Warner Robins Air Technical Service Command.
A concert by the Royal Air Force Band will be one of the highlights of the party which will include many special entertainment features and continuous dancing. The 14-piece Robins Field Orchestra will play for modern dancing while Ray Melton's orchestra has been obtained for square dancing.
Bleechers and chairs are being placed in the hangar while the floor is being waxed for dancers. Large stages have been provided for the 105-piece British band and for the dance orchestras. Two refreshment stands will be in operation throughout the party which begins at 8 p.m. and will continue until midnight.
Special police will be provided to direct the parking of private cars while bus transportation will be available for military personnel and for employes living in the residence halls in Warner Robins.
Employes and military personnel may bring their families to the holiday event but employe badges will be inspected at the floor, it was said. No admission will be charged.
Macon music lovers are in for a rare musical dish with a British flavor, if they attend the Royal Air Force Band concert at the City Auditorium at 3:30 p.m., Sunday under the auspices of the Macon War Finance Committee headed by T. I. Denmark. The concert is free of charge.
The RAF Band features a symphonic orchestra headed by Commander R. P. O'Donnell, conducting, assisted by Pilot Officer John Hollingsworth, the youngest British conductor to have directed the London Symphony, London Philharmonic and National Symphony orchestras. The concert will feature the work of English composers and the best scores of other well-known composers. Included will be the usual selections played for military personnel in RAF camps, hospital bases, and tours throughout England.
"The RAF dance band is busy elsewhere, entertaining the fighting Tommies in Belgium. The band will not play American jazz, for I thought it best to present the type of music we play in England," said Commander O'Donnell, veteran of Word War I, and a 21st Lancer, "booted and spurred in India."
General H. H. Arnold, chief of the U. S. Army Air Forces, arranged to have the RAF band tour America while the Army Air Forces Band tours England, in an effort to bring the Allies into closer harmony through music. Due to the efforts of Col. Thomas H. Chapman, commanding officer of Warner Robins Air Technical Service Command, the band included Macon in its itinerary of 27 leading cities in the United States.
The military band section of the organization will parade on Cherry street from the Terminal station to the auditorium. The parade, headed by an escort of Macon police, will start at 2 o'clock, Sunday, prior to the concert.
Through the co-operation of Mr. J. O. Morgan, business manager of the Motion Picture Operators and Stage Employes Local Union No. 507 of A. F. of L., the lighting effects for the auditorium stage will be handled by Mr. C. L. Leonard and Mr. T. W. Harrell. Their services are being donated.
The public address system which will be in use is being donated by Guy White Radios, Mulberry street.
Several thousands guests celebrated the New Year in a mammoth party at Robins Field for employes and military personnel of the Warner Robins Air Technical Service Command.
Highlight of the evening was a concert by the Royal Air Force band and symphony orchestra whose 105 musicians will play for Macon music lovers in the City Auditorium this afternoon.
Following the concert the Robbins Field Dance orchestra took the spotlight and dancing continued in the big operations hangar until midnight. Several square dances also proved popular with the guests.
Led by Wing Commander R. P. O'Donnell, the British musicians lost no time in capturing the favor of the huge audience and received a ringing ovation after every number. Both the military band and the symphonic orchestra played as individual units while several numbers featured the entire ensemble.
Col. Thomas H. Chapman in a short address preceding the concert welcomed the British musicians who are beginning a tour of Army Air Forces installations in this country. He also spoke to the employes and military personnel and their guests outlining the necessity of stepping up individual efforts to meet the increased workload of the coming year.
Newly elected officials of the Robins Field Welfare association were introduced to employes during a break in the continuous program that began at 8p.m..
Special buses were used to transport soldiers from the cantonment area and employes from Warner Robins to the party which was the biggest event of its kind ever held at Robins Field.