Trumpet Serenade for These Times from Virginia's Ellett Valley

Apr 15, 2020

Ellett Valley in Montgomery County
Credit Kurt Holtz

The evening tribute to health care workers in New York is resonating around the country. And a retired doctor is in Blacksburg is doing his own riff on that theme at the same time each evening in the  Ellett Valley.

But instead of honking horns, it’s trumpet solo.


John Gregg often plays his trumpet in the early evenings. And a few weeks ago, he took the show outdoors with only the red winged blackbirds for back up.  As the sky began to glow, he opened with "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copeland.

A message had gone out to the nearby communities in the mountains above the valley, from Patty Raun, a professor at Virginia Tech. For the last several evenings, she wrote, “I’ve been listening to solo trumpet music float to me from somewhere below our house... rising out of the valley on air filled with the scent of all that is blooming right now."

He moved to a rendition of "What the World Needs Now" by Burt Bacharach and a much requested tune, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow " by Yip Harburg. People text Gregg with requests.

Many evenings they sit in their cars in the church yard across the street, physically distanced but brought together by the trumpet serenade. Passing cars providing the base.

As the the sun began to set below the mountain, "Yesterday" by the Beatles wafted over the valley and up to those houses on the mountain above, a then a rendition of "What a Wonderful World" by Bob Thiel and George Weiss.