BSO concert to honor veterans

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — A special performance by the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra honors military veterans with a mix of patriotic music and a symphonic salute to the flag raisers of Iwo Jima.

Area veterans are especially invited to attend the concert, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. March 3 at the Bartlesville Community Center. World War II veterans will enjoy complimentary admission, said BSO General Manager Lee GrothOlson.
“Tickets will be discounted by half for all other veterans for up to two tickets each,” she said.

After the concert, a reception will be held for all the veterans in attendance. Noted actor and former Marine, Wilford Brimley, who will serve as narrator for Chris Brubeck’s “Quiet Heroes” symphonic tribute, plans to attend the reception to personally meet the valiant men of WWII and other military conflicts.

When Brimley heard about the “Quiet Heroes” project, he was so moved that he said “he would crawl over hot coals” for a chance to narrate the piece, according to Brubeck’s program notes on his website.

Brimley is narrator for “Quiet Heroes” as often as he is available and considers it the most important work he has ever done. Brimley is most recognized for his acting roles in movies such as “Cocoon” and “Summer of the Monkeys” and a slew of television episodes and movies including a recurring role on “Our House” and “The Waltons.” He also played the postmaster general on an episode of “Seinfeld.”

Composer Chris Brubeck, son of noted jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, also will be present for the performance. Chris Brubeck has previously performed with the Bartlesville Symphony on three separate occasions, the most recent being October 2010 as Bartlesville enjoyed his memorable multi-media orchestral experience Ansel Adams: America.

Brubeck got the idea for the composition after reading the book, “Flags of our Fathers,” by James Bradley. The author’s father, John Bradley, was one of the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, caught on film in the famous photograph by Joe Rosenthal. The musical composition and narration follows the lives of the six men, three of whom were killed at Iwo Jima. The rest of the group was handpicked to serve on a nationwide tour promoting the sale of war bonds. Instant heroes, the three would bear lifelong emotional scars from their war experience.

BSO Music Director-Conductor Lauren Green describes the piece as “powerful, profound and emotional — a memorable event for all who experience it, military and civilian alike.” Local historian, Joe Todd, who interviews World War II veterans for the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kan., is thrilled with the upcoming concert and veteran reception.   “It’s really a neat deal; a lot of veterans plan to be there,” Todd said.  Area Iwo Jima survivors planning to attend the concert include Arles Cole of Tulsa, Lonnie Cook of Morris, Jim Gailey of Muskogee, Arlon Jenkins of Claremore, and Gerald Sears, Bob Radebaugh, Earl Vaughn and R.J. George, all of Bartlesville. Mrs. Gene Greb, of Nowata, wife of the late veteran Gene Greb, also hopes to be at the concert.  Todd’s war interviews are published each Tuesday in the “Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise” newspaper. Next week, Iwo Jima survivor R.J. George, of Bartlesville, is the featured veteran.

Besides Brubeck’s piece, the concert includes Robert Lowden’s “Armed Forces Salute;” Norman Dello Joio’s “Mission in the Sky,” from the television program “Air Power;” and Richard Rodgers’ suite from the show “Victory at Sea.”  A march written by BSO orchestra member Jeffrey Smith also is featured.

Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra performances receive support from the Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Tickets are available at the Bartlesville Community Center Box Office, online at or by calling 918-336-2787. For more information, visit

Lee GrothOlson, general manager, 918-336-7717