U.S. Army Band presenting Christmas concert in McAlester

Dec. 12—The 77th U.S. Army Band is bringing a free Christmas concert to McAlester — and organizers are hoping the band plays to a full house.

It's set for Thursday, Dec. 15, at S. Arch Auditorium in McAlester. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the music set to begin at 7 p.m. It's sponsored by the McAlester Scottish Rite and the city of McAlester.

No tickets are required for the free concert. All audience members have to do is show up and take a seat.

Approximately 30 musicians and a vocalist are expected to perform during the McAlester concert, said Jeff Wolf, one of those helping organize the concert.

"They will play traditional Christmas music," Wolf said.

He said the 77th U.S. Army band is performing free of charge, with the band even contracting with those who will handle the sound.

"This is like a gift to the community from Fort Sill," Wolf said.

He and other organizers hope McAlester-area residents show their appreciation by attending the concert by the 77th Army Band, known as "The Pride of Fort Sill."

"We would dearly love for them to play to a packed house, soaking up the music and the show they're going to put on," said Wolf.

Dennis Wilson, president of the Indian Chapter of the Scottish Rite and another of the event organizers, is also enthusiastic about the upcoming event.

"It's going to be a fantastic concert," Wilson said.

When the 77th Army Band from Fort Sill, in Lawton, played the recent Nov. 11 Veterans Day Concert in McAlester, plans were already in place for the military band to return and perform the Christmas concert in McAlester.

Wolf, a participant in the Veterans Day concert, recalls standing in the wings when the music began.

"My mouth was open and I was like 'Wow!' I was absolutely astonished. They really are like world-class musicians."

Wolf noted doors for the concert at S. Arch Thompson Auditorium open an hour prior to the concert. Wolf said the band would especially like to welcome student band members of any age to attend and hopefully meet with some of them prior to the concert.

Organizers noted the band members are active members of the military.

"These men and women are soldiers first," Wolf said.

Wilson agreed.

"These men and women can put down their instruments and take up their weapons in an instant to protect our country," said Wilson.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1098 is helping with the event, by providing a meal for the band, said Wilson.

Wolf said the band is led by Warrant Officer Martin Johnson, with McAlester's concert part of a regional tour.

"They're going on a tour of North Texas and Southeast Oklahoma," said Wolf. "They will go from McAlester to Texarkana and more of North Texas."

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.