For the Bauman-Moyer family, holidays have long meant togetherness and music at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Their longstanding tradition was to attend Saturday night's "Holiday Pops" concert together to get in the spirit of the season. But for several years, someone has been missing.
Katie Bauman is a sergeant in the United States Army, and has been stationed abroad for the past four years. A flight medic, she recently returned from Afghanistan and is now with Charlie Company 1/52 GSAB out of Fairbanks, Alaska. Bauman is a graduate of Canisius College and was raised in Tonawanda and Amherst. For three of the past four years, she has been unable to be with her family for Christmas and has missed the BPO's "Holiday Pops" concerts.
Bauman contacted Susan Schwartz, BPO director of marketing and communications, a few weeks ago to share her story and asked if the orchestra could help her surprise her family.
"When Katie contacted me and asked about the possibility of making this happen, I immediately wanted to help," Schwartz said. "Our holiday concerts are all about making memories and family togetherness. The BPO was honored and privileged to be able to give Katie Bauman and her family a holiday they will never forget."
Early in the concert Saturday, conductor Ron Spigelman announced to the audience he had a special delivery for Mary Beth Bauman-Moyer, Katie's mother. Bauman-Moyer came up on stage, and Katie emerged from backstage as the special delivery. In a brief, emotional speech, Katie thanked the BPO and asked the audience to remember all of the men and women of the military who are far from home during the holiday season, making sacrifices so that we all may enjoy freedom.
She and her mother then joined the rest of their family and the nearly sold-out audience for a concert filled with holiday favorites performed by the BPO, Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and special guests (vocalist James Torme and Sal Andolina's Big Band).
Tickets for the family to attend the concert were provided thanks to the assistance of Entercom radio station WBEN.