The Pensacola Opera presents from Sea to Shining sea pictured is a graphic promoting the event during the Foo Foo Festival 2021. It features and opera singer and the event date of Nov. 11 and time of 3:30-5pm

A Program of Patriotism

Date Posted: Sep 01, 2021

The Pensacola Opera’s Foo Foo Festival performance is a musical salute to service

Performing at the annual Foo Foo Festival has always been a highlighted event for the Pensacola Opera. This year, the performance is especially meaningful as it’s an opportunity to salute the nation’s veterans and active service members on Veterans Day.

The Foo Foo Festival—a 12-day festival of arts and entertainment that began eight years ago—is scheduled to take place November 4 through 15, and the Opera will be kickstarting the final weekend of the event. On Thursday, November 11, the Opera will perform a musical salute to service, From Sea to Shining Sea, at Hunter Amphitheater at Community Maritime Park. “We obviously have a large percentage of military and retired military in our community, and when thinking about what we wanted for our program, we wanted to honor them,” says Pensacola Opera Artistic Director Jerry Shannon. “We’ve programmed a wealth of music that truly honors those who served or are serving our country.”

Chiming in on the special performance is the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, the Pensacola Children’s Chorus, and the Choral Society of Pensacola. This inclusive, multi-generational approach is of particular importance, Shannon shares, because of the many generations of military servicemen and servicewomen they hope to salute. “It’s hard to find someone—at any age—that doesn’t have one degree of separation of service to the country. These many generations of people coming together to salute our veterans and service members is truly special.”

The multi-generational ensemble is continuing that theme throughout its musical selections as well, ensuring that the program strikes just the right note in celebrating and honoring military members both today and throughout history. “We want to honor them all,” Shannon adds. “To do so, we really made an effort to be as musically diverse as possible so that we include pieces associated with a variety of major conflicts that have happened over the years.”

Throughout the performance, there will be well-known and well-loved pieces such as Battle Hymn of the Republic, The Stars and Stripes Forever, and American the Beautiful, as well as others that may be less well known but greatly evoke emotions and memories of specific wars of the past, such as Fanfare for the Common Man, which was originally composed by American composer Aaron Copland. “It’s a great piece, and it was written as a response to WWII,” Shannon says. “Another planned piece, Glory Denied, focuses on the Vietnam War and is a juxtaposition of a man who was a prisoner of war reading a letter while you see his wife writing the letter to him. It’s especially moving.”

The Pensacola Children’s Chorus will perform a number of favorites, including God Bless America and God Bless the U.S.A., Let There Be Peace on Earth, and their own special arrangements of each branch of the armed service’s anthems. The Pensacola Opera will also be performing its own tribute to each branch’s anthem, which Shannon finds particularly humbling and exciting. “It’s always so moving when servicemen and servicewomen hear their branch’s anthem and stand up and sing along. You can’t help but be incredibly touched, and it’s an honor to be performing for them. We carefully pieced this program together, and it’s like a great quilt. A musical quilt of beautiful arrangements put together in order to honor these special members of our society.”

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