June 2019 marks the start of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy. As part of that anniversary, the Park City High Marching Band will travel to France to participate in the momentous festivities. The PCHS band is the only Utah group participating in the D-Day celebration.
The band will perform in Normandy June 5-8, including performances at the Brittany American Cemetery at St. James and the Normandy American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. The cemetery memorial services will be attended by families and dignitaries from around the world.
In additional to their individual performances, the student musicians will perform as part of a combined 1,000 member band that will perform John Williams’ “Hymn to the Fallen.” Williams have given special permission for the combined band to perform his composition only on June 6 and 7.
The actual commemoration will be held June 8 with each band taking part in the D-Day Memorial Parade and Musical Salute.
The students will perform in Paris on June 9 in town squares throughout the city. Some 75 students will be going to France, including six students who will have graduated a few days before leaving. Students are covering their own expenses for the trip and scholarships are being offered to those who need assistance thanks to the Park City Education Foundation and the generosity of local donors.
Bret Hughes, assistant director of Bands, said he hopes the students gain an understanding of the historical significance of D Day. “This is their chance to be part of something bigger, something that is so important to American and world history,” he said.
In December 2016, the Marching Band participated in the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and Hughes said that experience had a lasting impact on students.
The band rehearses Tuesday and Thursdays from 3-5 p.m. at the high school where they are currently learning technique and rehearsing their musical selections. A special logo was designed by Park City High band student Valeny Valles, and she received a $1,300 scholarship for her design.
The band has planned a “Send-Off Concert” on Wednesday, May 29, at 6:30 p.m. at Dozier Field. Due to the field being set up for Graduation that Friday, the Marching Band will perform facing East (the Visitors side). All attendees should sit in the Visitors Bleachers on the East side of the field. (In the event of inclement weather, the performance will be moved into the front Gym at Park City High.) The evening is free to the community.
“We invite the community to attend and hear some of the musical selections we will be performing in Normandy,” Hughes said. “We want to get the community as excited about our trip as we are. It really will be a life-changing experience for our students.”
Bret Hughes, Assistant Director of Bands, and Director of Percussion, Park City High