Salute concert celebrates patriotism and remembers veterans

COLUMBUS, Ind. — On a night normally reserved for timeworn tradition, the new and novel stepped centerstage at the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s annual SALUTE! free concert Friday.

Instead of veteran and now-retired David Bowden leading the ensemble, there was guest conductor Roger Kalia, known to music followers here mostly as the former music director of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Just before Kalia raised his baton at a sun-splashed Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans along Second Street came another new twist.

Philharmonic board president Christopher Raskob introduced Isaac Selya, the Philharmonic’s just-announced music director.

“It is an enormous honor to have this position,” Selya said to the crowd. “And I am very much looking forward to sharing some music with you all later this fall.

“But tonight, I’m very much looking forward to getting to relax, and hearing some beautiful music from the orchestra and watch while Roger Kalia does all the hard work.”

Columbus resident Jim Lucas was among the throng who admittedly comes for more than a song at an event that has become an overarching show of community unity. Lucas’ family is rich with military devotion, including three brothers who served in Vietnam and an uncle who died in Korea, and another who died in France.

“So I try to come here almost every year,” he said. “We have a long history.”

Given his heritage, his favorite part of the gathering is a simple and powerful one: the Armed Forces Salute, wherein veterans from every branch are asked to stand awash in a chorus of applause and appreciation.

Lucas also fell in love with tenor vocalist Jonathan Elmore’s powerful vocals on even an abbreviated, pre-concert warmup of the emotional “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables.”

“What an awesome voice,” Lucas said.

For the complete story and more photos, see Saturday’s Republic.