DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – AVB Community Band will continue its season of “We Believe in…” theme concerts at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at Walter Theatre of Abbot Pennings Hall of Fine Arts, 315 3rd St., at St. Norbert College. Info: snc.edu/tickets and avbcommunityband.org. Admission is free, with donations welcome.

According to a press release: “We Believe in America: Music That Brings Us Together” is the theme of the evening of music honoring America and America’s veterans.

The 75-member AVB Community Band will be joined by local vocalist Sarah Saari.

This is the first time the AVB Community Band (formerly the Allouez Village Band) has performed at the Walter Theatre.

Director Mike Ajango, director, says, “Magic happens at the Walter Theatre,” which has been home to many important community performances, including the SNC Summer Music Theatre. “I’m looking forward to conducting my first concert at this grand venue.”

Members of American Legion Post 11 in Green Bay will be in attendance to help welcome guests and post the colors.

Paul Oleksy is associate director of the band, which is in its 41st season.

Narrator for the concert is Bruce Deadman.

The concert will open with “The Star-Spangled Banner (A Symphonic Portrait),” featuring Sarah Saari, who has also sung the anthem at Lambeau Field.

Following will be “The Battle Cry for Freedom,” which was wildly popular during the Civil War and for decades after.

Saari will join the band on “Hymn to Freedom,” considered jazz pianist and composer Oscar Peterson’s most significant composition. It was written in 1962 and embraced by people over the world as the anthem of the civil rights movement.

A memorable video tribute to America’s veterans and fallen heroes – created by Brent Hussin, AVB Community Band president and manager – will be accompanied by the music of “Arlington (Where Sleeping Giants Lie)” composed by Paul Murtha.

The first half concludes with Saari joining the band in Ira and George Gershwin’s “‘S Wonderful” and the band performing Irving Berlin’s “Songs of America.”

After intermission, Saari and the band will perform “Our America,” featuring “Yankee Doodle,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “This Land is Your Land.”

The band follows with the rousing “March from 1941,” from Stephen Spielberg’s comedy “1941.”

“You Raise Me Up,” made famous by Josh Grobin, will also be performed by Saari.

“Purple Mountain Majesty (America the Beautiful)” will be followed by the band’s tribute to veterans during “Armed Forces ’72.”

The concert concludes with retiring of the colors, followed by a performance of the original Kate Smith version of “God Bless America,” performed by Saari and the band.

Over the last 20 years Mike Ajango has been involved in numerous St. Norbert College Summer Music Theatre productions, both as a performer and part of the crew.

He says, “I probably know every square inch of the Walter Theatre. On stage. Backstage. Above stage. Below stage. Scene shop. You name it.”

His favorite production may have been “The Phantom of the Opera,” he said.

He has also performed at the Walter Theatre in dozens of concerts as a member of the Dudley Birder Chorale.

“Dudley is a good friend and a great inspiration to me. He was still conducting and directing into his 90s. I’ve got another 25 years of work to do if I am going to catch him,” quipped Ajango.

A note: A limited number of tickets will be available for purchase in the lobby prior to the concert for a chicken dinner being served at the Riverside Ballroom following the AVB’s “Music of the Big Bands” concert there Sunday, Feb. 19, from 2-4 p.m.