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Kick off Independence Day at annual patriotic concert
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SAVANNAH — Kick off your own Independence Day celebration by joining the Armstrong Atlantic State University Department of Art, Music and Theatre in honoring America, her servicemen and women, and all veterans of the U.S. armed forces in a special concert event: the annual Savannah Winds Independence Day Patriotic Concert.

The Winds perform this popular concert each year on the Sunday prior to Independence Day. The 2009 concert is scheduled for June 28 at 3 p.m. when the ensemble brings the event back to AASU’s Fine Arts Auditorium for the first time since the completion of substantial aesthetic and technical renovations to the concert hall.

This Savannah Winds’ star-spangled performance salutes the countless courageous individuals both past and present who have sacrificed for Uncle Sam’s red, white, and blue. Mark. B. Johnson, principal conductor and music director of the Savannah Winds, has again programmed a victorious musical parade of traditional American patriotic favorites, including amongst others music by Samuel Barber, Lee Greenwood, Henry Fillmore, Irving Berlin, and the esteemed American band conductor himself John Philip Sousa. Special guests will join the Winds on stage: the Chatham County Veteran of the Year will be recognized; a Fort Stewart 3rd ID senior officer will narrate one of the pieces; and WTOC’s Bill Cathcart returns as master of ceremonies.

As has become expected for this concert, Johnson may also be hiding another trick or two up his tuxedo tails sleeve.

The AASU Fine Arts Auditorium is a nearly 1,000 seat, mid-sized proscenium concert hall that AASU has recently reopened after extensive interior renovation during the last year. Significant acoustical, aesthetic, technical, and cosmetic upgrades have now made this concert hall one of Savannah’s premiere locations for a first-rate concert going experience. Parking is convenient, and the building is wheelchair accessible.

The Savannah Winds Community Wind Symphony in residence at AASU is an ensemble that in recent years boasted of community membership consisting of select AASU students in addition to local lifelong musicians ranging in age from teenagers to players in their eighties.

The ensemble has come to be regarded as Savannah’s preeminent community wind ensemble. Membership changes from season to season, and the band invites interested musicians, professionals and those who enjoy music as an avocation, to become involved. Rehearsing weekly from September through June, the group regularly performs patriotic, standard, and art music of the vast and rich wind ensemble repertoire.

Johnson’s conducting responsibilities at AASU include leading the Savannah Winds, the university wind ensemble, and various chamber ensembles. He also teaches conducting, music education courses and he coordinates the wind and brass studies divisions. Johnson has completed post-graduate studies in band and orchestral conducting at the University of Kansas. He received his master’s of music degree in conducting and brass pedagogy from Louisiana State University and his bachelor’s of music education degree from Murray State University.

Ed Caughran of “Ed and Friends” fame … The Annual Patriotic Concert originated as a cornerstone of the “Ed and Friends” concert series. The “Ed and Friends” tradition celebrates the numerous achievements of Ed Caughran, retired fine arts coordinator and music specialist for the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. For many years, Caughran was a major force in developing the music education programs in Savannah. He later served at AASU as special assistant for the instrumental and music education program at Armstrong Atlantic.

AASU is proud to continue his legacy of musical support by presenting this annual patriotic concert. Above and beyond the impact that Caughran has made in the Savannah music education world, he and his family have made significant annual financial contributions toward the AASU Music Scholarship Fund in honor of J. Patrick Evans, M.D.

Tickets are on sale now. General admission concert tickets to the 2009 Savannah Winds Annual Patriotic Concert are on sale for only $12 in advance ($14 at the door), while senior citizens, military personnel, and children/students may purchase tickets for $10 each in advance ($12 at the door).

Advance tickets are now available on-line. Visit

Advance tickets may be purchased in person or by phone at the Fine Arts Main Office, Room 125 in AASU Fine Arts Building, during normal business hours at  (912) 344-2556.

To purchase advance concert tickets by mail, please send payment (make check payable to AASU) and a self-addressed, stamped envelope, including a note indicating number of tickets at each price level, to:

Savannah Winds Patriotic Concert Tickets
Department of Art, Music & Theatre
Armstrong Atlantic State University
11935 Abercorn St.
Savannah, GA 31419-1997

Any remaining seats will be sold at the door beginning one hour before the concert.