The Fallen Five Memorial in the Tennessee Riverpark in Chattanooga.

Virtual Concert

The performance of “Five” can be seen at:

https://youtu.be/I9Kyxytyx4Q

Five men killed on July 16, 2015

  • Carson A. Holmquist, Marine Corps
  • Logistics Specialist Second Class Randall Smith, Navy
  • Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Marine Corps
  • Lance Cpl. Squire K. “Skip” Wells, Marine Corps
  • Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt, Marine Corps

State breakdown of musicians in “Five” virtual concert

  • Tennessee: 38
  • Indiana: 38
  • Georgia: 9
  • Mississippi: 6
  • New York: 4
  • Wisconsin: 2
  • Nevada: 2
  • Alabama: 1
  • California: 1
  • Colorado: 1
  • Illinois: 1
  • Kansas: 1
  • Maine: 1
  • Nebraska: 1
  • Ohio: 1
  • South Carolina: 1
  • Texas: 1

One hundred eight musicians. Seventeen states. Social distancing determined by miles, not feet. Combining all of that into one seamless, five-minute piece of music.

That was the plan of Kenyon Wilson, associate head of the Department of Performing Arts at UTC. And it worked—with colossal help from UTC videographer Jacob Cagle.

In 2015, Wilson was compelled to write a piece to honor the five servicemen — four Marines, one sailor — who died in the terrorist attack at the U.S. Navy Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway in Chattanooga. The piece, simply titled “Five,” debuted in 2016 and has been performed every year since.

For the fifth anniversary of the attack, Wilson wanted to do something special, but the coronavirus meant he couldn’t pull together a local orchestra to perform in person. So he turned to the current go-to method of meetings and gatherings.

He went online.

Putting the word out through a video on social media, Wilson received responses from high school musicians across the country.

“We put together this video and just put it out there. Then it started getting shared,” he said.

The idea was to have musicians perform the piece, using the same instrument they would play in a live performance, and videotape it.

“We did a video that talked to everyone through the process. Where to go to download the music for free. How to set things up. How to get the submissions to me and then did a separate video of me just conducting,” Wilson said.

After the musicians sent their videos to Wilson, he gave them to Cagle. Adding a video of Wilson conducting, Cagle’s job was to blend the separate videos into one cohesive whole. Not the easiest job in the world.

“When I did it, I thought my computer was going to burn down,” Cagle said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to take a long lunch and if it catches fire, let me know.’

“It was insane, but it was pretty cool seeing them come together at the end.”

“Five” originally began after the 2015 attack when Wilson felt driven to create a tribute to the men killed. Music came to mind first.

“I’m a musician and we tend to think that music is the answer, so that is the one thing that I could do,” said Wilson. “I later learned in an interview I was reading that two of the Marines had been members of their high school band. Skip Wells played clarine,t and David Wyatt played tuba. So the fact that we already had come to this musical connection, it made sense to me, at least for the impetus of the piece.”

He noted that the high school students who performed “Five” at its debut have now graduated. It’s time to hand the piece off, he said.

“We have a new generation of high school students that could have been involved in the project that got canceled because of the pandemic, so we went this other way,” Wilson said.

“As teachers, we miss our students. I’m sure the students miss making music,” Wilson said. “A lot of music students really identify with being in band or choir as their community, and they’ve lost that, their support group and all of this.”

The virtual concert, he said, made it possible to “engage these students and be able to come forward with something productive out of something pretty bad.”

 

 

 


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1 Comment » for Musicians from across the USA participate in Fallen Five concert
  1. Richard L Owen says:

    Professor Wilson;
    What a wonderful tribute.Thank you. I’m a 1969 graduate of the University of Chattanooga and joined the Marine Corps in 1970. I retired in 1999,a Colonel with 29 years of active service. The 2015 terrorist attack that took the lives of 4 Marines and 1 sailor was so unexpected, so cowardly. Chattanooga is so far away from the mindless horror of war that has touched so many American citizens that serve our Nation in our Armed Forces. I am sad that this horror struck home.
    That you would use you talent to compose this beautiful music , perform it 4 times and then for the 5th tribute ,organize a ‘Virtual Concert’ of High school musicians from 17 states is noteworthy. That effort comes from a ‘Good Heart’ and reflects all that is best in our country.You have done a great service, inspiring young musicians from across the country to join together in something larger then themselves, remembering and honoring the 5 servicemen who died, and helping the process of the healing of families and a wonderful community [Chattanooga]. Thank you again Professor Wilson. Your students are truly blessed.
    Richard Lee Owen,UC class of 1969

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