The Chamber of Commerce ended its Concerts in the Park series with a final performance on Aug. 26.
The concert, held at Lincoln Park, featured a patriotic performance by Clovis-based band "Sounds of Freedom." The concert marked the conclusion of the series, four themed concerts that were held every Friday night at the park since Aug. 5.
“Each night there was something for the entire community,” said Chamber Executive Director Bob Allen. “I couldn’t ask for a better Concert in the Park season.
Hugh Adams, a life-long Selma resident and euphonium player, has been making music since middle school. He said that while everyone’s invited to the concerts, that performance by "Sound of Freedom" is really a tribute to prior generations.
“Music is international and it comes from the heart, but this music is American and patriotic. The variety is amazing and it’s all to do with America,” he said.
Thirteen-year-old trumpet player Francisco Cardinale and drummer Thomas Cook, also 13, are part the band. They say the music is patriotic but is enjoyable for every age group.
“I like 'The Star-Spangled Banner,'” Cardinale said. “I like hearing the different singers. It’s a great image of our entire country and what people have done to come together and make it.”
Cook said he does get nervous playing with such an experienced group, but conductor Monte C. Gmur gives him good advice.
“I’m usually thinking about trying not to rush. Our conductor tells us to just keep pushing through it,” he said.
Julia Lucero, serving as a guest conductor that evening, is also Selma Unified’s elementary school music teacher. She typically plays flute with "Sounds of Freedom."
Lucero said the all-volunteer band is known for its performances at military events throughout the area, including change-of-command ceremonies, Honor Flights and Veterans of Foreign Wars events.
Nearly 50 band members filled the Russ Noble bandstand that night and played a variety of patriotic songs, big-band-era songs, a Beach Boys’ medley and “Cartoon Carnivale.”
“Our audiences are the best. We love seeing them get up and dance,” Lucero said. “It makes us happy that we’re entertaining them and they’re enjoying it.”
Selma’s American Legion Post No. 12 sponsored their performance. Local members were on hand to present the U.S. flag and the local post’s flag at the beginning of the evening.
“We look out and I see a lot of Veteran’s hats. It’s a beautiful night,” American Legions Post Commander Eliseo Zuniga said.
Although all the patriotic music is sentimental to Zuniga, he said his favorite would be the Marine’s hymn.
“As a Marine, our song is very sentimental to me,” he said.
Army veteran David Ochoa was also on hand to present colors. When he hears patriotic music, he said he reflects on all the service personnel he’s knew while serving two tours in Iraq during his six years of military service.
“I think back on all our brothers and sisters out there when I served overseas,” Ochoa said. “It brings back a lot of emotions to me. To hear ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is something even more special now than when I joined.”
Allen said that while he was pleased with this year’s series of music concerts, he’s already thinking of ways to showcase more local talent next year.
The Abraham Lincoln Middle School drumline performed at the Aug. 19 concert and it sparked an idea to reach out to the new music teachers in town. Thus, perhaps next year there will be even more student performances, he said.
“It makes the community feel proud about what the students are doing,” he said.
Allen said that while it’s becoming a tradition to have certain performers return each season, some were new to the series or had new musicians and a new sound, such as "Real Jazz" and "Baloney Creek."
Allen said the Saechao family will again be invited to sell vegetables during next year's concerts, while a series of local nonprofits will take turns selling food each week.
“You don’t have to spend a penny if you don’t want to, but it’s a plus to have the vendors here,” he said. “Anything we can do to improve what we’re doing at the Chamber, we’re for it.”