Latest Military Report
U.S. Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard Band
The United States Coast Guard Band, based in New London, CT, is the 55-member, premier musical representative of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. Since last year’s report, the band participated in two nationally televised events and participated in a red carpet movie premier event. In December 2015, the band provided the music for the National Tree Lighting, hosted by President Obama, the First Lady, and their children. The annual event, watched by millions around the world, provided the opportunity for the band to collaborate with such artists as Reese Witherspoon, Trombone Shorty, Miss Piggy.
In February, the Coast Guard Band’s vocalist joined a joint services chorus to present a rendition of America the Beautiful during the pregame ceremonies for Super Bowl 50. January found the band in Los Angeles, CA to participate in the premier of Disney’s “The Finest Hours,” a movie based on the real-life Coast Guard hero, Bernie Webber. The band then hosted the 2016 College Band Directors National Association Eastern Division Conference at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, along with composer in residence Frank Ticheli.
The band just released a new recording this December entitled “Forever Free – the Music of Kenneth Fuchs” and plans the release of two more albums in 2017. One is entitled “The Music of Jess Turner” and will feature the Mr. Turner’s concertos for flute, saxophone, and tuba. The other recording, titled “Coast Guard Made” will feature music composed and arranged by members of the U.S. Coast Guard Band, including a bass clarinet concerto titled “Concerto in Rock” by Senior Chief Musician Andrew Grenci, as well as a transcription of Canteloube’s Chant D’Auvergne for soprano and band.
U.S. Air Force
The United States Air Force Bands
The United States Air Force Band, based at Bowling Air Force Base in Washington D.C., presented over 1,400 performances in 2016 for nearly 800,000 people, and reached over 170 million through various media appearances. Highlights for the year include a reappearance at Macy’s July 4th fireworks celebration broadcast from New York City, a trip by the Air Force Strings to Cambodia to recreate a 1954 performance there by the Air Force Band, and the 17th appearance of the Ceremonial Brass on NBC’s Today Show. The Concert Band and Singing Sergeants toured through Ohio and Pennsylvania during which they presented ten sold-out performances.
The Airmen of Note jazz ensemble performed at the 2016 Detroit Jazz Festival and presented their own annual Jazz Heritage Series in a new venue, the Schlesinger Concert Hall in Alexandria, VA, where they collaborated with featured artists including Steve Turner, Cyrus Chestnut, and Terell Stafford. The Airmen of Note also provided the musical entertainment for this year’s National Tree Lighting.
In addition to the National Tree Lighting, the holiday season once again proved to be very busy for the U.S. Air Force Band. The Concert Band and Singing Sergeants presented three sold-out performances of their holiday program at DAR Constitution Hall in the nation’s capitol, and they produced their fourth consecutive holiday “flash mob,” which once again became an internet sensation and featured a cameo appearance of the Secretary of the Air Force for the second year in a row.
The band released several recordings this year. To celebrate the Air Force’s 75th anniversary, the band presents a two-disc set: a Concert Band album entitled “Journeys” along with the jazz band’s self-titled recording “Airmen of Note.” Each year the band records its holiday presentation at Constitution Hall and makes it available the following fall. The 2015 performance entitled “Spirit of the Season III” is now available. Additionally, the band is releasing a compilation recording featuring the group’s noted former commander and conductor, Col. Arnald Gabriel, titled “The Gabriel Years.”
The United States Army Bands
The West Point Band kicked off its bicentennial year with an appearance in the 90th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The Band has been in continuous support of the United States Military Academy since June of 1817; training and inspiring Cadets at the World’s preeminent leadership development institution. Plans to commemorate this milestone in the Band’s history will include a published history book and a commemorative concert and gala at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center. Commissions will also be written for the Band by Michael Ables, Ira Hearshen, Joe Trapanese, and Tim Simonec to help capture the significant role the Band has played in the history and future of the Military Academy.
The United States Military Academy Band demonstrated a significantly increased mission impact as the Army’s lead New York City Engagement tool by continually working to bridge the civilian-military gap in the New York City Metropolitan Area, a prime media outreach environment, and a strategic focal point for the Chief of Staff of the Army. The organization exhibited outstanding and meritorious performances within its area of operations that frequently resonated on a national platform. Performing groups and individual performers within the organization demonstrated agility and cohesiveness to a changing unit mission, leveraging new dynamic operational environments through broadcast, print, digital, and social media, reaching new key and diverse populations throughout the nation and the world.
The organization targeted USMA Admissions outreach opportunities to help the Army Officer Corps reflect the diversity of our nation through multi-agency engagement in missions such as the 2016 New York International Auto Show, Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem, Aspire Academy, and the New York City Harmony Program for underserved youth. Year-over-year virtual and live audiences increased 29% through key community engagement events culminating in a standing-room-only outdoor Independence Day Celebration that featured the internationally-acclaimed Mormon Tabernacle Choir to an audience of 15 thousand. The organization has developed a social media presence that rivals similarly structured organizations at no additional cost to the Army, allowing critical resources to be deferred to mission-essential requirements. During this time period, the unit ushered in a new era of strategic communication of the value of Army Music across the digital domain. As a result of the USMA Band’s aggressive media messaging campaigns, the Army narrative and strategic messaging was received by audiences totaling 13 million.
At the small-group level, the Benny Havens Rock Band (BHB) has re-invigorated live music performance productions specifically geared toward the Cadet ages 17-24 demographic. By producing engaging and authentic stage shows, which include synchronized programming of lights, sound, and multimedia, the BHB was recognized by the Chief of Army Bands and Adjutant General Corps as the Music Performance Team of the Year.
The Field Music Element (“The Hellcats”) have endeared themselves to each cadet by performing daily meal formations. In addition to their primary duties of rendering Reveille and Retreat ceremonies each day, they have selectively integrated popular music into the traditional instrumentation of fifes, drums, and bugles, and are the first-call for any mission requiring a performance steeped in the tradition of West Point. Such excellence was displayed on the streets of New York City during the internationally-televised Columbus Day Parade, warmed the hearts of each and every veteran during the 2016 Veterans Day Parade and Closing Bell ceremony at the NY Stock Exchange, and reflected the roots of American military music on the Battlefield of Antietam 150 years after that great battle. Simply written, the Hellcats produced more saturation of outreach than any single performing element in the organization during this same time period.
Individual Soldiers in the organization have been recognized internationally, demonstrating day-to-day excellence as stewards of the Army Profession, and demonstrating the USMA strategic goal of sustained professional excellence in a culture of winning. For example, one Soldier was featured on a solo exposé on the televised singing competition “The Voice;” another Soldier served as the DoD Liaison to the GRAMMY Award Nominations Committee; and a third created an enduring theme song for the Department of Defense “Warrior Games” while simultaneously creating a musical soundtrack to a cadet-driven video project seen by more than 500,000 on social media. Individual talent was further exhibited when the unit provided the Primary Percussion Instructor for the Army All-American Bowl Band. Each Soldier serves to represent the Army profession to thousands of potential enlistees. The unit also renewed a Fox News holiday television production titled, “A West Point Holiday” which united generations of the Nation’s finest Army Officers, weaving age-old Academy traditions and landscapes with performances from diverse combinations of unit performance elements. The USMA Band also increased Direct Cadet Support and Development through providing media-integrated leadership presentations, developed Cadet Academic Enrichment programs, and provided direct instruction and mentorship to the Cadet Spirit Band and the Cadet Strings.
Further exposure was brought to the Army by performances at an increasing number of professional sports arenas (NFL, MLB, NHL), Belmont Stakes Triple Crown, Pocono Raceway, and featured television appearances including Fox and Friends, The Today Show, and the 2015 World Series. All total, comparable positive exposure would have cost the Army over $5,000,000 in advertising fees. Further, several opportunities were accomplished with only one single Soldier per mission, providing maximum concurrent outreach with minimal overhead cost.
The unit was a reliable strategic resource in serving the priorities, strategy, and messaging of the Army to the nation and those within the United States Military Academy footprint. Through increased performance mission capabilities of each performance element, the unit received a 19% increase in requests for Band participation. In line with Army Chief of Staff Directives, the unit also increased targeted civilian-military relations to underserved communities, setting the unit apart from other military bands, and displaying superior world-class mission performance and devotion to duty by all members of the unit.
The United States Army Field Band, whose mission is to “serve and inspire the American people by telling the Army story,” once again toured the nation on behalf of the Army’s Chief of Public Affairs. The various elements of the Field Band—the Concert Band, Soldiers’ Chorus, and Jazz Ambassadors—presented over 200 performances across the nation during the course of three separate concert tours, reaching over 200,000 people. Highlights included performances at the American Bandmasters Association and at the Detroit Symphony’s July 4th “Salute to America.” The Jazz Ambassadors headlined the Texas Bandmasters Association Conference, while the Concert Band offered performances at the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School. On Veterans Day 2016, the Jazz Ambassadors appeared with the Portland Symphony, the Soldiers’ Chorus joined forces with the New York Pops at the famed Carnegie Hall, and both the Concert Band and Chorus appeared on the Fox News Channel’s morning “Fox and Friends” to honor the nations veterans.
The Army Field Band’s newest ensemble, the Six String Soldiers, captured the attention of an enormous online and television viewing audience. They appeared on twice on the Harry Connick, Jr. Show, on Fox Business Network as they rang the New York Stock Exchange opening bell, with John Fogerty on CNN’s Morning Express with Robin Meade, as well as in numerous self-produced videos widely shared on social media.
The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” whose mission is to provide support for the leadership of the United States…and to a wide spectrum of national and international events” supported myriad high profile events in the nation’s capitol and throughout the U.S. during the past year and sponsored several national music events at their training facility on Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall in Arlington, VA. In February, the Concert Band and Orchestra supported the annual Tuba-Euphonium Workshop, one of the largest tuba-euphonium conferences in the world. This past year’s guest artist lineup included The American Tuba Quartet, the East Carolina University Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble, the Samford University Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble, Demondrae Thurman, as well as the Heeresmusikkorps Veitshöchheim from Germany. In June, the Concert Band, Orchestra, and Army Blues jazz band sponsored the annual American Trombone Workshop, which featured performances and masterclasses by the Juilliard Trombone Quartet, Mark Kellogg, and Harry Waters, among others. In June the band participated in the Great American Brass Band Festival in Danville, KY. Likewise in June, the band hosted its National Collegiate Solo Competition and in July once again held its annual conducting workshop.
The Ceremonial Band and Herald Trumpets continued to provide world class support to our nation’s public ceremonies. They performed for our national Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies and once again joined the National Symphony Orchestra for the nationally televised “A Capitol Fourth” held each year on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Additionally, they provided musical support to state visit ceremonies for the Prime Ministers of Canada and Italy as well as the President of Singapore. In May, both groups traveled to Orlando, FL to join Prince Harry of Great Britain for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Invictus Games.
U.S. Marine Corps
The Marine Corps Music Program
“The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band continued its primary mission of Presidential support with nearly 300 performances at the Executive Mansion. 2016 highlights included four State Dinners for Canada, the Nordic Countries, Singapore, and Italy and the band’s annual performances for the Easter Egg Roll, the Independence Day celebrations on the South Lawn, plus support for the White House Correspondents Dinner, Kennedy Center Honors Reception and the Congressional Ball. The chamber orchestra also enjoyed the spontaneous guest conducting of Maestro Gustavo Dudamel while he was in attendance at the White House for the National Medal of Arts and Humanities event.
The Marine Band’s 2016 concert season will conclude with two performances at the Midwest Clinic featuring guest artists, Dr. Patrick Warfield and Tom Hooten, as well as showcasing two new works for wind band. The first of these is a Marine Band commission of James Stephenson, his Symphony No. 2, Voices, and the second is a Midwest Commission for which the Marine Band will offer the world première, Donald Grantham’s Symphony after Hafiz. Other highlights from 2016 included the transcription premières of John Williams’ The Flight to Neverland from Hook done by Paul Lavender, Gerard Schwarz’ own transcription of Rudolf and Jeannette, and Adam Schoenberg’s Picture Studies crafted by MGSgt Donald Patterson. We also continued our popular “Young Peoples Concert Series,” “Music in the Schools” programs and the Concerto Competition for high school musicians. This year’s winner was flutist Mei Stone of Waco, TX.
The Marine Band’s 2017 calendar anticipates many exciting events to include the swearing in ceremony for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. The band’s latest CD project, to be released in January of 2017, is entitled “Picture Studies” and features the Schoenberg as well as a new transcription of David Conte’s A Copland Portrait, crafted by Capt Ryan Nowlin, and the Dmitri Shostakovich transcription by MGSgt Donald Patterson, Suite from The Gadfly. The band will also be showcased at the 2017 ABA convention in Louisville, KY in February. Guest Artists will again play a significant role in the 2017 Season. Maestro Gerard Schwarz will collaborate once again in a program featuring the “Cornerstones” of the wind band repertoire in February. Ricardo Morales will also make an appearance as a featured soloist performing the Clarinet Concerto, Nekudim by Jonathan Leshnov, on a program that will also feature a première of Jacob Bancks’ Occidental Symphony.
The Marine Band continues to increase its presence through online initiatives. In addition to our “March Mania” and live streaming all of our chamber recitals, the band has completed Volumes 2 & 3 of “The Complete Marches of John Philip Sousa,” a multi-year recording project that offers free download of the accompanying PDFs of the full scores to include historical and editorial notes about each piece. More information on The Complete Marches of JP Sousa and new live recordings of the Marine Band, Chamber Orchestra and chamber ensembles are all available for free download and are updated monthly in the “Audio Resources” section of the Marine Band website. These selections include marches, symphonic repertoire, soloists and a “New Music Corner.”
The Navy Music Program
The United States Navy Band and its various ensembles, based at the historic Naval Yard in Washington, D.C., performed across the United States as the premier musical representatives of the Department of the Navy. In January 2016 the Commodores jazz ensemble performed at the Jazz Educators National Conference in Louisville, KY. February saw the Sea Chanters chorus participating in the Super Bowl pregame presentation as part of the joint service chorus and the band’s premier country ensemble, County Current, performing at the highly-televised Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Convention in Nashville, TN. In March, the band’s brass quintet performed at a Medal of Honor ceremony at the Pentagon, while the Commodores Combo supported the White House Medal of Honor reception. Throughout the spring and summer, the Commodores, Country Current, and the Cruisers (the band’s premier contemporary/popular music ensemble) all toured separately through the central and western states. In November, the Sea Chanters and Cruisers performed a halftime show at the NYGiants-Philadelphia Eagles game at Giant Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.