Meet the West Point Band – SSG Q

Staff Sgt. Juan Quinones


I was born in San Juan Puerto Rico and began to play the trumpet at 5 years old. I come from a family with an old tradition in music. When I was 13 I started to work as a professional musician in the Latin music industry. My music background comes from pop to jazz music. I Had the blessing to work as a studio trumpet player and lead singer in the Latin music scene in Puerto Rico, Miami, New York and Latin America.


Miguel Pena, Roberto Rodriguez, Al Hood, Antonio Zalcedo, Cuco Pena, Mark Wood, Alberto De La Reguera.


Latin Music, Pop, Hip Hop, Jazz, Classical, African, Afro Cuban.

When did you join the Army?  



Current Projects:

Arranging new music for the BHB, on call studio musician NY City

 What are you working on?

New compositions for audio network music library, and producing my first solo album


I knew I wanted to be a musician when…

I knew I wanted to be a musician the first time my parents took me to a Latin gig back in Puerto Rico where I was born. I was around 4 or 5 years old. My dad, who is also a musician, introduced me to a few percussion instruments and a started banging on them. I still remember the joy and feeling going through my veins.

An Army performance highlight: 

Around 6 months after I arrived to my first unit which was The Army Ground Forces Band, I had the opportunity to perform a duo piece with one of my trumpet player idols, Allen Vizzutti. Mr. Vizzutti was invited to play 2 shows and do a master class with the band and I was featured with him in a tune called VizBiz. I’m always grateful for the Army and the opportunity to do stuff like that at such a high level of professionalism.

Meet the West Point Band – SSG Vidal

Staff Sgt. Geoff Vidal


Born and raised on Cape Cod, Massachusetts SSG Vidal was steeped in the big band traditions of the 1940’s and 50’s from the age of 15 while part of a local big band (born out of the National Guard!). He earned a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance from UMASS Amherst where he was awarded multiple

Downbeat Student Music Awards. He then moved to New Orleans in 2003 where he lived until Hurricane Katrina sent him back up north, this time to New York City, where he remained for ten years freelancing and leading his own groups. In 2012, SSG Vidal took First Place in the very first Detroit Jazz Festival Saxophone Competition, ultimately winning a spot at the festival that summer. SSG Vidal enlisted in the US Army after winning an audition to become a member of the West Point Band.


Teachers include Lynn Klock, Jeff Holmes, Adam Kolker, my wife, and the Buddha.


I’d like to think that my playing is comprised of many different influences rather than a distinct few. I recognized early on that depending on the situation, you’re playing changes and you have to be able adapt and adjust on the fly.

When did you join the Army?

July 2013

Current Projects:

Currently I am co-leading a jazz quartet with my West Point bandmate SFC Derrick James. We are playing locally in the Hudson Valley and are developing our original compositions while continuing to honor the great jazz traditions.

What are you working on now?

I do a lot of arranging for the Benny Havens Band which is a great way to hone my writing chops. I am also the NCOIC of the Cadet Jazz Forum for which I am currently coaching a jazz ensemble of Cadets and area High School students. I’m always working on various solo transcriptions of the masters as well as trying to build technique on my other horns (clarinet and flute).

I knew I wanted to be a musician when…

I knew I wanted to be a professional musician after suffering a terrible sports injury in high school. While I was laid up on crutches for months, I always had my saxophone, and from that moment the road ahead was clear.

An Army performance highlight:

My favorite Army performance highlight was opening up for Jay Leno with the Benny Havens Band in a sold out Eisenhower Hall.  What a rush!2016 UN at Central Park Zoo - BHB022

Meet the West Point Band’s SSG Jeremy Gaynor

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gaynor

Staff Sergeant Jeremy Gaynor is West Point’s male lead vocalist and an instrumental part of the Benny Havens Band. A native of Tampa, FL, he comes from a family of military service men and women. 

No longer able to ignore his own call to service, Staff Sgt. Gaynor enlisted into the Army in 2009, receiving an initial duty assignment with the 72nd Medical Detachment at Fort Campbell, KY—101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

As a vocalist, Staff Sgt. Gaynor has performed in over 150 large-scale stage productions across Europe, Asia, and the continental United States. During assignment with the Army Entertainment Detachment, he performed or managed productions in a wide variety of venues in service to such dignitaries as President Barack Obama.

In 2014, he joined the West Point Band. Shortly after arriving in New York he was selected as a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice,” an experience that gave him invaluable insights into today’s music scene. Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gaynor takes pride in the opportunity to serve his country, his fellow service members, and the local community. In addition to his duties as the male lead vocalist, Staff Sgt. Gaynor serves as the band’s Production Manager, choreographing and helping to put on some of the band’s biggest productions. Off duty Staff Sgt. Gaynor enjoys writing, watching sports, and the joy of life with his wife and young daughter.

Teachers and Influences: Greg Powe Sr., Bryan Powe, JESUS CHRIST

When did you join the Army? August 2009

Current Projects: Song That Save Our Lives

 I knew I wanted to be a musician when…

I realized the power and impact music had to inspire, encourage and uplift.


The Voice - Season 8

THE VOICE — “Battle Rounds” — Pictured: Jeremy Gaynor — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

An Army performance highlight:

NBC’s The Voice Season 8Gaynor SS

Marching The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade


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This November 24th, 2016, the West Point Band will march the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It was a huge honor to be selected by the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Committee.  We had to apply as far back as March of 2015.  This Macy’s parade performance will launch the celebration of the West Point Band’s 200th Anniversary.  On June 8, 1817, the West Point Band officially became an organization to serve the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York; the U.S. Army; and the Nation.   Musicians were actually stationed at West Point as early as the Revolutionary War, but our official beginning started in 1817.



The West Point Band has performed in this parade at least two other times in 1970 and 1982.   Since Macy’s is celebrating its 90th parade, it is very likely the West Point Band marched it during the early years.  About three million people will line the streets of New York City to watch the parade and another 65 million will watch on television.    

The West Point Band’s preparation focuses on two parts of the day: the live street parade and the TV broadcast.   The band will march the parade in a typical parade block with the Marching Band in the front and the Field Music, The Hellcats, in the rear.  On the route the band will perform standard marches in rotation: Washington Post, by Sousa; National Emblem, by Bagley; America Exultant, by Hays (a pen name of Fillmore); and the trio strain of The Official West Point March, by Egner.   Between the marches The Hellcats will perform a few traditional holiday selections.

Once the band approaches 34th street, it moves to a broadcast silent zone.  The band will re-configure from the standard block to the Macy’s show block.   Once we are on the ready line, the band will get a cue to perform its one minute and 15-second marching show.  The music we perform is called a Joyful Fanfare and includes a number of song references in this short timing.

The band will march into position with Auld Lang Syne.  While this song is known best to ring in the New Year, it is performed to ‘bid farewell’ at other occasions like graduations.   At West Point, Auld Lang Syne is part of the West Point Graduation March.  This medley of songs was put together in 1938 and represents music from the early days of the Academy (formed in 1802).  Auld Lang Syne pulls together the “Long Gray Line (West Point graduates)” at two alumni parades a year at homecoming and during graduation week.

After the band has marched into position, snippets of The Army Goes Rolling Along, Army Blue, and On, Brave Old Army Team will sound as the band drills on the Macy’s star.   The Army Goes Rolling Along is the Army’s official song and is performed at the end of official ceremonies throughout the Army.  Army Blue is a traditional West Point song performed at graduation.  The melody was originally from the Civil War song, Aura Lea.  This song represents the emotions of West Point graduates as they change from the Cadet Gray uniform to the Army Blue uniform on Graduation Day.   On, Brave Old Army Team is the U.S. Military Academy’s fight song and composed by a former West Point Teacher of Music, Lieutenant Phillip Egner.

The traditional rope tension drums will feature just before the Hellcat buglers perform Joy to the World.   This bugle rendition is often heard on the West Point Holiday Show.   The band ends the one minute and 15 second show with a short musical quote from Let There Be Peace on Earth.   

The West Point Band will then march off to the Army’s official song, The Army Goes Rolling Along and then the full version of Lt. Phillip Egner’s On, Brave Old Army Team.   

It is awesome to lead this band as drum major!  Thank you to everyone involved in making this show happen.   The West Point Band, inspiring leaders for 200 years!


Words by Sergeant Major Christopher Jones – Concert Band Element Leader and Drum Major Emeritus

Reaching a Younger America


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If you walk into Egner Hall and ask any West Point Band musician what the band’s mission is, the response would most certainly be, “to provide world-class music to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets…” While this is certainly our primary focus at the United States Military Academy, it is one of many, many missions that we pursue in the band. Amidst a constantly evolving and often chaotic operations schedule—USMA reviews, and Trophy Point concert series, and patriotic parades—smaller contingents of the band are running in every direction to complete additional missions. You can find West Point Band musicians playing on news networks in the city, at sporting events, patriotic ceremonies, hops (formal dances), banquets, and community concert series. In addition to all of these, the West Point Band also pursues an education outreach program that serves the local Hudson Valley and New York City communities.

As a professional musicians, we are personally invested in the quality of arts education in our country. The arts help students explore ideas and relationships that cannot be conveyed easily in a traditional classroom. Studies have consistently shown that arts education can engender innovative problem solving, develop critical thinking and cognitive skills, and promote self-discipline, self-esteem, and teamwork.

We are delighted whenever there is an opportunity to bring music back into schools, particularly in a time when funding for arts education is being slashed around the country. According to the Department of Education’s report Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 2009-2010, more than 1.3 million students in elementary school receive no music instruction. The same is true for roughly 800,000 secondary school students. By extension, schools in higher income areas consistently offer more music and arts classes than schools in poor areas – a finding consistent with both reports. [1] While 93% of Americans agree that the arts are vital to providing a well-rounded education for children, the arts remain on the fringe of education.[2]


SSG Katrina Elsnick teaches young children about the flute at the Instrument Petting Zoo portion of the Quintette 7 Kids Night Concert.

The West Point Band’s own Education Outreach Division helps to fill that gap by bringing band musicians to elementary and junior high schools, opening the doors of discovery for young people who might otherwise not have the opportunity to hear live classical music. The summer was a very busy season for the Ed-Outreach team.

 On July 6th members of the band and the Education Outreach Division performed chamber music for and coached the New Jersey Youth Symphony. The following week the West Point Woodwind Quintet performed in the Summer Music Institute at Monroe Woodbury Middle School. The quintet performed an innovative “menu-style” program for choir, orchestra, and band students. Audience members were given a raffle ticket; those whose numbers were drawn chose the music to be performed from a list of prepared repertoire. This creative approach to engaging young audiences resulted in extremely positive feedback from the students, parents, and teachers.

In August, Quintette 7 performed its popular children’s concert as part of the Trophy Point summer concert series. Based on storytelling, Quintette 7 set music to popular children’s books, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Other stories were written by members of the West Point Band that included a tale about a West Point cadet, and an exciting journey through New York City. Aided with props, members of the West Point Band interacted with its young audience through dancing, clapping, and marching.


SSG Cooper entertains kids for Quintette 7’s annual Kids Night concert at Trophy Point.

Additionally, our Ed-Outreach team organizes field trips in which students from local schools can watch and participate in West Point Band rehearsals at Egner Hall. Most recently, on September 22nd the Ed-Outreach Division presented the West Point Band’s annual Young People’s Concert. Nearly one thousand elementary and middle school students attended this concert, which had been tailored specifically to them. The concert program, “Music Moves You,” explored the way that music moves us physically and mentally in our everyday lives. It featured the West Point Concert Band, Quintette 7, and vocalist Staff Sgt. Mcaleesejergins. Consistent with all of the Ed-Outreach performances, the concert was a hit, and the kids left Ike Hall with grins on their faces.


MSG Reifenberg and SSG Mather de Andrade perform at “Kids Night with Quintette 7” at Trophy Point.

Staff Sgt. Kristen Mather de Andrade is head of the Education Outreach Division, and she continues to help the band present successful programs to young audiences in the community. “As ambassadors of the United States Military Academy, outreach is one the biggest parts of our job. We have the opportunity to not only share the inspiring stories of the cadets and the academy to the communities we serve, but also to do so with some really great music. As a musician in the military, nothing is more gratifying than reaching someone, regardless of their age, with a great performance and a healthy dose of positivity.”

With a healthy dose of positivity, and a strong sense of humor, the West Point Band’s Education Outreach Division continues to reach young audiences with innovative and entertaining concerts. Not only are they serving an important (and sometimes forgotten) demographic of the Hudson Valley community, but they are also promoting arts education for the next generation. Check the West Point Band calendar for an Ed-Outreach concert near you!

Written by Staff Sgt. Natalie Wren

[1] Judson, Ellen. “The Importance of Music.” Spread Music Now. Accessed May 2016,

[2] Harris Poll referenced in “News and Information.” Americans for the Arts. June 15, 2005. Accessed August 2016,

Mean Green to Army Green

“You’re from North Texas! Aren’t you?”

It wasn’t long after my first few steps in Egner Hall at West Point that I was greeted with an eagle claw. (OK, not really, but I had mine ready alongside a vigilantly practiced hand salute). Upon accepting a position in the band, enlisting in the United States Army, and completing Basic Combat Training, I joined the band in February of 2014. I serve alongside ten North Texas alumni.


Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class William Calohan

Pictured left to right:
Staff Sgt Katrina Elsnick, 2007-2009;
Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Prosperie, 1989-1999;
Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Uhl, 1995-1997
Staff Sgt. Sam Ross, 2007-2009;
Sgt. 1st Class Rone Sparrow, 1997-2002;
Staff Sgt. Eric Ordway, 2000-2003;
Staff Sgt. Ashley Mendeke, 2006-2011;
Staff Sgt. David Bergman, 2000-2005;
Master Sgt. John Manning, 1996-1998;
Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Nelson

On October 22, 2016, Army West Point football plays North Texas, so I saw it fitting to gather the alums for a group photo as we briefly reminisced about the experiences and interactions that helped prepare us to be non-commissioned officers in the West Point Band—one of the Army’s premier bands, tracing its roots to a fifer and drummer during the time of the American Revolution.

Exceptional Mentorship


“UNT’s College of Music is known as a powerhouse over the world. The large number of music students fuel an array of ensembles in which I was able to take part. Although my program was large, I never felt like a number. I was able to form close mentorships with my professors there that were extremely important to my development.”

-Staff Sgt. David Bergman

Some of my most vivid memories while at UNT were interactions with faculty members.  My professors coached me to a higher, more consistent level of artistry, which included performing when I didn’t “feel” ready amidst balancing several deadlines—in other words, real life experience. I remember my flute instructor Dr. Mary Karen Clardy handing me Variations on “Nel cor più” by Theobald Boehm, and performing it less than 12 hours later. I also recall my conductor at the time, Professor Fisher, giving the Symphonic Band a piece to sight read during a performance. Looking back, these performances instilled confidence in my musical development. While the instructors challenged me to consistency in performing, everything was very process-driven, focusing on fundamentals and musicality.

“My musical duties in the West Point Band primarily consist of rudimental snare drum, and orchestral percussion including timpani and drumset. At UNT, I honed these skills with three world-class musicians as my teachers: Paul Rennick, Christopher Deane, and Ed Soph respectively. Their mentorship was a critical part of my development and success.”

-Sgt. 1st Class Rone Sparrow

Unique Opportunities



“I’m really grateful for my time at UNT; it afforded me countless performing opportunities, from Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra, to NOVA (contemporary music ensemble), opera orchestra, and chamber ensembles. Being in such a large music school, I was able to study with two teachers in the course of the same semester and gain a wider perspective, and as a means to improve myself as a musician at a faster rate. Everything was really centered on that for me.”
-Staff Sgt. Sam Ross

One common aspect appreciated among fellow North Texas alumni was that of being afforded the opportunity to perform in an array of ensembles. Through numerous performances in diverse ensembles, members of the band gained a unique outlook while practicing the skill of performance in and of itself.


“I had the opportunity to perform in so many ensembles: small chamber ensembles, Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, Opera productions, NOVA ensemble, and flute choir.”
-Staff Sgt. Katrina Elsnick

This perspective has come to serve us well in the West Point Band, where programs and ceremonies are regularly adapted to serve our audience: the United States Corps of Cadets, as well as local, national, and international communities. Being versatile, flexible, and willing to change at a moment’s notice are skills that I have come to appreciate.


“I absolutely loved my time at UNT. The mentorship of Regents Professor Keith Johnson and the experience gained from performing in ensembles as varied as the 2 o’clock Lab Band, Wind Symphony, Baroque Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, solo recitals, and chamber music groups prepared me for any musical opportunity which might arise.”
-Master Sgt. John Manning

A Healthy Dose of Competition



“The real world level of excellence and competition that the faculty and students create at North Texas gave me the skills and confidence to pursue any professional goals I have achieved.”

-Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Prosperie

With over 30,000 students enrolled in the University of North Texas, there is an inherent competitive atmosphere of the College of Music. Similar to music conservatories across the country, talent, excellence, and sheer virtuosity practically burst out of the doors at 415 Avenue C, Denton, Texas. Nevertheless, I remember the environment being incredibly supportive. In my time there I observed fellow studio members’ lessons and attended numerous recitals and concerts. I’ll always remember scurrying off to the practice building upon hearing the inspiring performances.


“UNT was my first choice for graduate studies. I knew the size, diversity, and quality of the percussion department and the student body would provide the greatest opportunity for me to learn and grow as a musician. It was an energized environment with great music and stiff competition.”
-Sgt. 1st Class Rone Sparrow

The Real Question

Who will we root for this Saturday?
That’s easy.
Go ARMY. Beat North Texas!

Words by: Staff Sgt. Ashley Mendeke

Songs of West Point: On Brave Old Army Team


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On Brave Old Army Team, or as we here at the West Point Band lovingly call it, “OBOAT,” is one of the songs that is nearest and dearest to the Corps of Cadets here at West Point, but it didn’t exactly have an auspicious beginning. Though it’s now the academy’s official fight song and a rallying cry sung out by thousands of impassioned Army fans at every football game, in truth, the composer of OBOAT wasn’t originally too keen on writing it. Here’s the story:


The 1944-1945 West Point cheerleaders

The year was 1910. The place, West Point. A dashing young lieutenant by the name of Philip Egner had just begun a promising career as music teacher and band commander at the United States Military Academy. When approached by an even younger, even more dashing cadet cheerleader with lyrics for a new cheer, Lt.Egner was initially… unimpressed.


But one day, as he was walking back to his home quarters after a hard day’s work, inspiration struck! Music for the cadet’s lyrics had sprung into his head. Worried he’d forget the melody by the time he got home, Lt. Egner hurriedly jotted down the notes on his stiffly-starched shirt sleeve. Thank goodness for a nice assertive laundering!


Learn these lyrics and you can sing along at the next Army football game!

Not too long after the composition of OBOAT, the Army team rose to football dominance, losing fewer than 10 games total between 1944 and 1950 and winning three consecutive national championships. The success of the team caught the attention of the entire nation, and the strains of Lt. Egner’s composition could be heard all across the country. Even jazz legend Glenn Miller paid tribute to OBOAT by recording a big band version of the song. During this heyday of Army football, On Brave Old Army Team was deservingly granted a place among the most beloved college fight songs of all time.

1944 Army football team national champions.png

The national championship-winning 1944 Army football team

Today, though the Black Knights may not have quite the same record they held in the ’40s, cadets and Army fans alike still use OBOAT to cheer their team on to victory. OBOAT is played many times throughout each and every Army football game — at the start of the game, after an Army touchdown, during the band’s pre-game marching show, and whenever the spirit of the moment takes over and calls the Corps to song.


Now, that’s the fearless Army way!

Make sure to catch the West Point Band performing On Brave Old Army Team this Saturday, October 15, as the Army team takes on Lafayette College! We’ll be performing our signature rendition of OBOAT at the pre-game football review (9:00 a.m. on The Plain at West Point) and throughout the big game (12:00 p.m. at West Point’s Michie Stadium). Join us and help cheer the Army team “on to the fray!”

If you liked learning a bit about OBOAT, stay tuned for a whole series of videos and blogs in the upcoming months about the songs of West Point!

Meet the West Point Band

Staff Sgt. Lee Jongyoon


I was born in Madison, Wisconsin. I grew up in South Korea and moved to Louisville, Kentucky.

I joined the US Army while I was a senior in high school as an Army Reserves bandsman (100th Army Band, Fort Knox, Kentucky).  I joined the Active Army band field in 2010.  I was stationed with the 8th Army Band in Seoul, South Korea (2010-2013), and with the 1st Cavalry Division Band at Fort Hood, Texas (2013-2015).  I joined the West Point Band in September of 2015.


Minho Kim, Craig Wagner, and mostly Google and YouTube


Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robben Ford, Guthrie Govan, Brent Mason, Paul Gilbert, Kiko Loureiro, and the list goes on…

When did you join the Army?

12 October 2007

What are you working on?

Being a better guitar player… I’ve also been learning some mandolin, banjo, and pedal steel.27645224010_2885aaa2d3_o.jpg

I knew I wanted to be a musician when…

I heard a “Little Wing” by Stevie Ray Vaughn for the first time.



Fifteen Minutes of Fame: A Celebration of Service

On September 11, the West Point Band and the U.S. Military Academy’s Cadet Glee Club will return to Trinity Church Wall Street for its annual 9/11 memorial concert, this year entitled, “A Celebration of Service.” While last year’s 9/11 concert celebrated the people of New York City—showcasing works like Bernstein’s Our Town and Copland’s Quiet City—this year’s concert will celebrate the strength and sacrifice of the men and women who serve, and have served, our country.

For this fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, the West Point Band will premier fifteen one-minute works that honor the contributions of those men and women. In a unique collaboration, the West Point Band joins contemporary music organization, Vox Novus to present Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame: A Celebration of Service. The West Point Band will premiere fifteen one-minute pieces created by composers who were responding to the theme “service” and what it means to all different kinds of people: military, first responders, community service, and everyday kindness.


Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame is a project whose purpose is to promote a greater variety of contemporary music to audiences hungry to hear what living composers are writing today. Vox Novus is a new music production and promotion company, established in 2009. Through concert programs such as Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame, Vox Novus seeks to empower composers, musicians, and community music creators. The Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame project has presented the World Premiere of over 1200 works by composers around the world performed by over 100 musicians since its inception in 2009. And in 2012, the West Point Woodwind Quintet gave the World Premiere of Fifteen-Minutes-Fame: Commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

The following fifteen composers will have their works premiered by the West Point Band: James Anderson, David Avshalomov (winner of the 2014 American Prize), Sy Brandon (recipient of the 2018 Thor Johnson Memorial Commission), Steve Cohen, Harrison J. Collins, Cindi Hsu, Nicholas Ryan Kelly, George David Kieffer (whose fanfare was selected for the Los Angeles Special Olympics, 2015), Alan Kinningham, Anthony O’Toole, David R. Peoples, James Peterson (whose work Moving Images Suite was featured at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards), Bradley Sampson, Richard G Smith, and R. Andrew Yates.

As soldier-musicians, we in the West Point Band are committed to serving our communities, local and national, and to act as ambassadors for the United States Military Academy and for the Army. But as classically trained musicians, we are also deeply committed to exposing our audiences to great music, both new and old. (While you don’t hear a lot of teenagers blasting say, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe or Gustav Holst’s First Suite for Military Band as they drive down the highway, I guarantee you that those are pieces well worth blasting.) We are thrilled to be collaborating with the Fifteen Minutes of Fame program, because by promoting today’s composers, we are insuring the permanence of tomorrow’s concerts for future audiences.

The concert will be held at 2:00 pm on Sunday, September 11th at Trinity Wall Street, and is free and open to all. We hope you will join us.

Words by SSG Natalie Wren