By CAROL COMEGNO
Snare drum rolls began faintly, built to a crescendo and then retreated quietly.
Trumpets issued a warlike call and bells tolled. Violins and a harp played a melodic, serene theme that evoked a mental picture of a ship sailing the seas.
These were musical elements of an orchestral composition inspired by the historic battleship USS New Jersey and written for the Haddonfield Symphony by composer Carter Pann of Ann Arbor, Mich. He was hired by the symphony partly with a $5,000 National Endowment of the Arts grant.
The symphony premiered Pann's "Anthems in Waves" Wednesday at the Tweeter Center to the delight of 3,200 students from schools statewide.
Steven Phillips, 10, a student at the Riletta Cream School in Camden and Faiz Mandviwalla, a second-grader at Haddonfield's Central School, said they iked the drums the most in the performance.
Classmate Emma Vandervort, 8, said the music was beautiful, not boring.
"It never sounded the same all the time. Sometimes I felt happy and sometimes it was scary," she said.
Nasheera Ray, 10, also of the Cream school, said she liked the beats and pronounced the concert "classy."
Afterward, students toured the 887-foot-long restored battleship, which recently opened as a museum behind the Tweeter Center. Many used one word to describe the New Jersey, the nation's most decorated battleship with 19 campaign stars earned from World War II to 1990.
"It's b...i...g," they all said, drawing the word out and raising their eyebrows in awe.
Pann said he tried to write the piece to sound heroic and evoke the ship visually. "I'm completely happy with it, but hope it can be performed on the ship. That would be the biggest thrill," he said.
Patricia Jones, co-chairwoman of the Home Port Alliance, the nonprofit group that operates the museum, said she hopes to have the orchestra do just that sometime this year.
"I was more than surprised at how extraordinary the music was, how complicated and magnificent. I could hear the history of the ship in it," she said.