Carolyn's Daily Posts: 2011

September 6, 2011

Somerset County (PA) Community Band Commissions Flight of Valor




Not many bands have music written especially for them, but in 2002 the Somerset County Community Band  commissioned “Flight of Valor,” a composition to honor the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93*.

     The band will perform Flight of Valor at the Flight 93 crash site at 2:00 p. m. on Sunday, September 11, following the Memorial Dedication service. Their performance will be at the entrance onto the walkway of the Memorial Plaza. The walkway leads to a stone listing the names of the Flight 93 victims.


     At the beginning of the 21st century the Somerset County Community Band discussed  commissioning a piece of music for their fifteenth anniversary, or for or the 2004 Somerset Borough bicentennial. As the discussion evolved, the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States occurred. United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field in Shanksville, not far from Somerset Borough. Many community residents were involved in the recovery process after the crash, and many lives were changed.

     This catastrophic event changed the focus of the subject of the commissioned piece to honoring the victims of Flight 93.

    Because the band had a lot of music written or arranged by James Swearingen, and he was a favorite of the director, Dan Croft, the discussion of who to approach to compose the music evolved in his direction.

     The Capital University (Columbus, Ohio) music professor, who is also Department Chair of Music Education and one of several resident composers at the University, agreed to take on the task. The resultant piece, Flight of Valor, was completed in time for the Community Memorial Concert scheduled for the evening of September 11, 2002.


     Swearingen was waiting for the right moment to compose a piece based on one of his favorite hymns, It is Well with my Soul. The moment came when Dave Breen, a band member, contacted him, asking him if he would be interested in writing the piece the band wanted.


     Flight of Valor has elicited incredible outside interest. According to Breen it is one of the biggest sellers of the publishing house, and is played coast to coast.

     “U-tube has a number of postings,” he said. “And Dan Croft (band director) has been a guest director with bands and told the story of Flight of Valor across Pennsylvania.”

     The band waited for an opportunity to perform Flight of Valor at the Flight 93 Memorial Site. Having a 30-45 piece band go through security is more difficult than having a small group, Breen said. However, their opportunity arose this year.

      The band will perform, for twenty to twenty-five minutes, at 2:00 p. m. Sunday on the entrance to Memorial Plaza’s walkway.

    Click on  Flight of Valor: Honoring United Airlines Flight 93 Victims to read about Swearingen’s writing of Flight of Valor, and to see a schedule of the Flight 93 Tenth Anniversary schedule.




Staycation Day Trip: Somerset County, PA

QUECREEK MINE DISASTER: A 21st Century Historical Site in Somerset County, PA




1 Comment »

  1. […] Somerset County (PA) Community Band Commissions Flight of Valor […]

    Pingback by 9/11: 13 Years Later—2014 | CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS — September 11, 2014 @ 3:01 am | Reply

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