‘Singing Policeman’ back with Allentown Band
“The Singing Policeman” returns Dec. 2 to Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown, to sing with the Allentown Band for the fourth year and he couldn’t be more excited.
Daniel Rodriguez, also known as “America’s Tenor,” joins the Allentown Band, El Sistema Lehigh Valley Children’s Chorus and the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts Touring Choir for the annual “Americans We Tribute to Veterans-Holiday Concert.”
“I travel all around the world, but Allentown is a place I keep coming back to,” says Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, along with the Allentown Band and youth choirs, will present a program of patriotic music and Broadway favorites, along with recognition of veterans.
A highlight is the premiere of a new arrangement of “Silent Night” by Allentown Band principal clarinetist Steve Reisteter in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Franz Grube composition.
Rodriguez will sing the beloved Christmas hymn backed by the youth choirs.
The Allentown band, conducted by Ronald Demkee, Allentown Band conductor, will perform Reisteter’s original composition, “The Eighth Candle - Prayer and Dance for Hanukkah” on the first day of Hanukkah, as well as his arrangement of “Jingle Bells” in memory of band percussionist Glenn Kressley, who died earlier this year.
Nearly 30 World War II veterans are expected to be recognized during the concert through a partnership with Mike Sewards and the Lehigh Valley Veterans History Project.
“Music connects all people,” says Rodriguez in a phone interview. “I truly believe it has the power to heal and I’m fortunate to be the vessel for that power.
“It will be a great show,” Rodriguez says.
Rodriguez has always been passionate about singing and started studying seriously at age 12. But when he was 20 and starting a family, he says his father told him he “had to get a job with benefits.”
So he enrolled at the New York City Police Academy. At his graduation, he was asked to sing The National Anthem for the ceremony at Madison Square Garden, which was attended by 2,000.
“That was the biggest B-flat of my career,” he says.
His performance brought him to the attention of then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who started calling him to sing at city events.
After the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001, Rodriguez was the designated National Anthem singer for the New York Police Department’s ceremonial division when he was dubbed “The Singing Policeman.”
9/11 changed everything.
“I was at Ground Zero,” Rodriguez says. ”I was a block away when the towers came down. I lost a lot of friends and sang at a lot of funerals.”
It was being asked to sing at the star-studded “Prayer for America” concert at Yankee Stadium a month after the attacks that brought Rodriguez to national attention.
“Placido Domingo asked me to come study with him and Oprah [Winfrey] asked me to be on her show,” he says.
Soon, Rodriguez was going from working as a police officer at Ground Zero during the day to appearing on the late-night TV shows in the evening.
When he was approached by record label EMI, he said he wanted to make a CD single of “God Bless America” and donate all proceeds to the Twin Towers Fund.
The single raised $150,000. A follow-up, “Spirit of America” album, sold 400,000 units.
“I was starting to make a living as a singer so I took leave from the police department,” Rodriguez says. “I just walked though the doors that opened. I never imagined this would be a part of who I am.”
For the Allentown Band concert, Rodriguez will sing “God Bless America,” as well as “Into the Fire” from “Scarlet Pimpernel,” “Anthem” from “Chess,” “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables” and “O Holy Night.”
Students are involved in all levels of the concert.
The ROTC Color Guard from Dieruff High School will perform the “Presentation of the Colors” with music by members of Freedom High School Fife and Drum Corps.
The El Sistema Children’s Chorus, under the direction of Steven Paszkowski, will sing a medley of World War I songs.
The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts Touring Choir, under the direction of David Macbeth, will perform “Christmas on Broadway.”
Susan Falciani Maldanado of Muhlenberg College will narrate the video, “Women in Wartime.”
There will be an introduction of veteran honorees by Sewards and Major General Gerald Still, USAF-R, President of the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council.
During a performance of the “Armed Forces Medley,” veterans will be asked to stand and be recognized when their military affiliation is played.
“Annual Americans We Tribute to Veterans-Holiday Concert,” 3 p.m. Dec. 2, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown. Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall box office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; allentownsymphony.org; 610-432-6715, Free admission for veterans.