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Annual Taneytown Community Patriotic Concert celebrates America's musical heritage

Rising together and joining their voices, more than 360 people of all ages sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" in the sanctuary of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Taneytown. The national anthem was one of several moving songs performed Sunday afternoon during the fifth annual Taneytown Community Patriotic Concert.

According to choral director and concert coordinator Cathy Elkiss, the performance is a celebration of American musical heritage. The concert included the Taneytown Patriotic Concert Festival Choir, violinist Dale Elkiss and the Trinity Lutheran JuBELLation Handbell Choir.

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Cathy Elkiss arranged the performance in sections: Our Folksongs, Hymns, and Spirituals; A Time of War … A Time of Peace; Songs from the Civil War; and Honoring Our Soldiers and Love of Country. She often invited the audience to sing along.

"I hope you feel some inspiration and hope as you listen," Elkiss told the audience.

Happily singing along, Air Force veteran Bud Barkdoll, of Taneytown, seemed moved by the music. During intermission, he described the concert as "glorious."

"The choir is fabulous. It's very dramatic and very patriotic," Barkdoll said.

Alan and Barbara Hunzeker, of Westminster, nodded along to the music. During intermission, the couple said they were particularly moved by "A Prayer for Our Time." Prior to the song, Elkiss said the piece was inspired by 9/11.

"The song about 9/11 was so meaningful," Alan Hunzeker said.

"Amongst such tragedy, you know God is still in control," added Barbara Hunzeker.

Church member Dorothy Hostetter, of Taneytown, enjoyed the concert with her sister, Charlotte Lookingbill.

"It's very good," said Hostetter. "People here are very patriotic. It's a good way to honor our country."

"You really get inspired," added Lookingbill, of Taneytown. "It makes you think about our country and how lucky we are to live in the USA."

Fourteen-year-old Duncan Gooding, of Towson, came to the concert to support his grandfather, choir member Jerry Gooding.

"It's sort of a belated Father's Day gift," Duncan said. "I've really enjoyed it. We try to come out to whatever we can to support him."

During intermission, choir member Jerry Gooding, of Taneytown, said he has performed at the concert every year since its inception.

"It's an incredible experience to sing with a group of people with this much experience," Gooding said. "Cathy Elkiss is just terrific, and the depth of spirituality gets me every time."

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Ronald Mutchnik, of Ellicott City, said the concert was a pleasure.

"Cathy and Dale are longtime friends from college. I wouldn't miss it," Mutchnik said. "Cathy chose all the right music. This is the best place to be to celebrate patriotism and our country."

Prior to "Salute to the Armed Forces", Elkiss asked those who are serving or have served in the military to stand or raise their hands. More than a third of the group stood. During the performance, each branch was recognized with their song.

Elinore and Marvin Frush, of Manchester, said they decided to attend the concert after seeing a flier in a local shop.

"We're very active in the Hampstead American Legion Post 200, and this really stirs my patriotism," said Elinore Frush.

"I love the enthusiasm," added Marvin Frush. "It's nice to reflect on our country and our independence around the Fourth of July."

The performance ended with a rendition of "God Bless America" and received resounding applause. Elkiss invited the audience to a reception hosted by the Trinity Lutheran Mite Society for fellowship.

After the performance, choir member Pat Schweinsberg, of Taneytown, said the crowd was the largest they've ever had.

"It was great to have so many people," Schweinsberg said. "I hope they take away a love of country and God."

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