- A Message from the Commander
- The 34th annual International Saxophone Symposium
- Marie McLean Townsend,
pioneer of the Navy
- Spotlight on...
Musician Paul E. Johnson
A Message from the Commander
On behalf of the men and women of The United States Navy Band, I would like to wish you a sincere “Happy New Year!” This year begins with many wonderful opportunities for you to come out and hear “The World’s Finest.” Our 34th annual International Saxophone Symposium will be held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. on January 7th and 8th. What started as a one room event held in the Sail Loft at the historic Washington Navy Yard, the Symposium now sprawls between several buildings and is one of the largest events of its kind in the world.
The Symposium was the brainchild of Navy Band alumnus, Master Chief Musician Dale Underwood, who served with distinction as saxophone soloist for thirty years. Dale is internationally recognized as one of the world’s foremost classical saxophonists and continues to be a highly sought-after instructor, lecturer and performer. Currently, he is teaching at the University of Miami,
Frost School of Music. Dale and his wife attend the Symposium every year. Please seek them out and thank him for starting this event 34 years ago.
The Concert Band will cap off the first day of the Symposium with an evening concert on Friday, January 7th at 8 p.m. that features four guest soloists, Barry Cockcroft, Chien-Kwan Lin, Branford Marsalis and Senior Chief Musician Timothy Roberts. The Commodores Jazz Ensemble will end the Symposium on
Saturday January 8th with a concert at 8 p.m., also featuring Branford Marsalis. We are excited to bring you what may be the best Symposium ever and hope you will make plans to join us.
The 34th annual International Saxophone Symposium
MU1 William R. Kelly and MU1 Joshua I. Arvizu
|MUCS Timothy E. Roberts, principal saxophonist with the Concert Band, solos during
the Concert Band’s evening concert as part of the Navy Band’s 33rd annual nternational
Saxophone Symposium – a two-day workshop of recitals, lectures & concerts
Mark your calendar for the Navy Band’s 34th International Saxophone Symposium, to be held Jan. 7 and 8 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. This year the Navy Band is proud to announce an especially exciting line-up of soloists. In addition to the Navy Band’s Senior Chief Musician Timothy Roberts and the Commodores saxophone section, this year’s event will feature Branford Marsalis, Chien-Kwan Lin, and Barry Cockcroft.
World-renowned saxophonist and three-time Grammy winner Branford Marsalis, an American jazz icon, is also one of the world’s most versatile musicians, maintaining a vast array of performing and composing interests from jazz to rock to funk to classical. As a classical saxophonist he has performed with many of the world’s great orchestras, and as a jazz legend he has performed with such greats as Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, and Sonny Rollins.Chien-Kwan Lin, professor of saxophone at the Eastman School of Music, has had an eclectic career, having appeared as saxophone soloist with orchestras across the U.S. and Asia, and whose musical experience also includes work as a jazz and orchestral violinist. Barry Cockcroft has established a reputation as one of Australia’s finest saxophonists and most innovative composers, and has appeared as soloist with orchestras across Australia and Asia. He has also collaborated with over 80 composers, leading to the creation of over 1,000 new works for saxophone, and has composed over 140 works for saxophone.
|Members of the U.S. Navy Band Commodores jazz ensemble perform at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts as part of the Navy Band’s 33rd annual International Saxophone Symposium – a two-day workshop of recitals, lectures& concerts.|
Marsalis, Lin, Cockcroft and Roberts will be performing with the Concert Band at the opening evening marquee concert on Friday, Jan. 7, 2011 at 8 p.m. Additionally, the Navy Band Commodores jazz ensemble will present a concert featuring Branford Marsalis and the Commodores saxophone section on Saturday, Jan. 8, at 8 p.m. All events will be at the George Mason University Center for the Arts at 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, Va.
Saxophone aficionados will also be interested in dozens of saxophone recitals, lectures, masterclasses and saxophone quartet performances, with a wide variety of music and topics that will appeal to beginning, high school, college, professional and amateur saxophonists, as well as anyone with an interest in the instrument. Check out the Saxophone Symposium schedule at www.navyband. navy.mil. Best of all, all events are completely free with no tickets required! We hope you can join us for this exciting musical, cultural and educational event. ff
Marie McLean Townsend,
pioneer of the Navy
by MUC Michael P. Bayes
|The Navy Band was saddened to learn recently of the passing of one of its honorary members, Marie McLean Townsend. Fanfare readers will remember that her service with the band during World War II was the subject of an article by Chief Musician Mike Bayes in our July/August 2008 issue (“Female Pioneers of the Navy Music Program”). At the time of her service, Mrs. Townsend wasn’t a rated musician - she was a WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). However, as the first female vocalist to perform with the band, she earned the title of “honorary member.” Mrs. Townsend was a frequent attendee at Navy Band alumni concerts, and was very much considered a member of the band’s “family.” In honor of her service to the nation and the band, we excerpt that article below.|
In July 1942, President Roosevelt signed into law the establishment of the WAVES, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. One particular WAVE was to become the first female musician assigned to the Navy Band when she served here as a yeoman from 1943- 1949. This is her story…
Marie McLean was born in Adams, Mass. She grew up with a love of music and a desire to be an opera star. Marie began her music career early by singing in church and school choirs. She took voice and piano lessons and often gave recitals in her hometown. During one of these recitals, she noticed that people were talking in the audience. Thinking this was “rather odd,” she poured her heart into the music. However, the talking grew louder. As it turned out, word was being passed that the American Navy base at Pearl Harbor had just been bombed, and the United States was at war.
Driven by her patriotism and a “love of the Navy uniform,” Marie eagerly joined the Navy as a WAVE in 1942 and was in the first group to be sent to boot camp at Oklahoma A&M. She described her experiences at boot camp as being “typical of what you would expect.” She most cherishes the memories of the friendships and bonds she formed with the other women. From boot camp she was sent to Washington, D.C., where she worked for Admiral Ernest King in the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). An extremely driven service member, Marie felt there was more that she could do for the war effort. She wanted to help with recruitment. Due to her drive and immense talent, Marie found herself singing on WRC radio every morning on the Bill Herson Morning Show. Her dream of singing was becoming a reality. It was during one of these shows that the leader of the Navy Band, Lieutenant Charles Brendler, who was actively searching for a female vocalist, heard her perform. Consequently, Marie was transferred from ONI to the Navy Band in 1943 where she served as the yeoman/secretary to the leader and as the Navy Band’s only female vocalist.
Marie fondly remembers singing such popular favorites as “The Man I Love” and “Embraceable You” with the dance band led by Chief Musician (and future Navy Band leader) Anthony Mitchell. She performed high profile engagements including President Roosevelt’s birthday banquet in 1945, White House Correspondents dinners held at the Hotel Statler, USO-sponsored events and White House protocol functions. She recalls singing at a Sunday morning religious service at the White House, after which President Truman approached her, shook her hand, and said, “You remind me of my daughter.”
The 1945 airing of the “Navy Hour” broadcasts gave Marie the opportunity to perform with such greats as Rosemary Clooney, Gene Kelly, Robert Taylor, Greer Garson and other famous celebrities. About these performances Marie said, “It was all very exciting for a small town girl with a dream of becoming a singer.” Indeed, Marie was finally living her dream and, as she did, she quietly became the first female musician in the Navy Band.
Spotlight on Senior Chief Musician Paul E. Johnson
by MUCS Juan Vazquez
Senior Chief Musician Paul Johnson serves as the band’s administrative chief. His behind-the-scenes contributions to the command’s daily activities has been an important factor to the band’s continued success.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Plymouth, Minn., a suburb west of Minneapolis. While attending Wayzata Senior High, I pursued my musical interests by playing trumpet in the school’s band and musical theater productions, as well as in the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies. I started college at the University of Minnesota, unsettled as to my career direction but interested in either music or engineering. I soon decided to apply all my energies to music and transferred to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where I received my Bachelor of Music. While in San Francisco I performed as principal trumpet with the San Jose Symphony. After graduation I studied with Vincent Cichowicz at Northwestern University, where I received my master’s degree in trumpet performance.
Halfway through my year at Northwestern, I auditioned for and was offered a position in the Chicago Chamber Brass. This was a great experience for me, both as a player and as an administrator. Each member of the quintet handled all aspects of the group. I gained experience in arranging music, writing contracts, pasting up graphics for offset printing, coordinating travel details, handling finances and administering payroll. It was a great lead-in for my career at the Navy Band, where I have also been involved in both the musical and administrative aspects of the organization. On the advice of (then Musician 1st Class, now Senior Chief Musician) Michael Cizek, I auditioned for the Navy Band and was offered a position in 1989.
What is your role as administrative chief?
One of the main attractions of this job related to my fascination with computer programming. Here I saw the opportunity for developing new custom software applications to streamline our processes. The job description of administrative chief is to be the watchdog over the Navy Band’s paperwork, including incoming and outgoing correspondence, reports, instructions, personnel records and official messages. What this most often means is that I will work with other Navy Band offices or individuals to help get documents processed through our internal channels and delivered to the intended recipient(s) while maintaining records in our archives. The tasks are more varied than I first imagined, and without the expert help of my staff of collateral assistants, I could not possibly get it all done by myself.
The Navy Band’s support staff consists of 18 members, most of whom entered the band in a musical performance capacity. I have always been impressed by the expertise of the members of the staff in their disciplines, all having starting with little or no prior experience. Even though we don’t perform primarily as musicians for the band anymore, I think that our connection to each other as musicians and to the band’s musical product helps us to function as an ensemble, working together as a team to get the job done.
What do you enjoy doing when not working?
I still love to play and perform principal trumpet with the Fairfax Symphony. I enjoy trying to keep up my gardens and I like doing puzzles and playing games, especially bridge. My wife and I share the enjoyment of finding a great bargain. Every now and then we find ourselves on a “Craigslist adventure” that might end up being a piece of jewelry, a new cello for my son, or an 800-pound, 10-foot metal sculpture that now accents our garden. I also enjoy supporting the interests of my children; for my 15-year-old son this means lots of time at soccer practices and games and music concerts. For my daughter, who is spending a year abroad on a cultural exchange program, it means time on Skype hearing about her adventures.
Are there any particular moments that you consider to be highlights in your Navy Band career?
There are two isolated moments that fall into the "once in a lifetime" experiences for me. One was playing taps at the funeral service for former President Richard Nixon in Yorba Linda, Calif. The Sea Chanters chorus also performed at the service. We were flown out a couple days before the service and housed at El Toro Marine Air Base, where we were treated to almost round-the-clock jet noise as the pilots conducted what must have been training runs for takeoff and landing. On the day of the ceremony, I needed an early start to board a 4:30 bus to the briefing with the ceremonial coordinators. By 7:00, I was on my way to a local school gymnasium, our holding area for the morning. At midday, we moved again, this time to the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, where we waited in the basement until the start of the ceremony.
My part in the ceremony, along with the firing party from the Navy Ceremonial Guard, was in the Rose Garden for the final honors. The religious service and eulogies took place on the other side of a ridge, hidden from our view, but I could hear the voices of the Reverend Billy Graham, Nixon's Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Senator Bob Dole, California Governor Pete Wilson, and President Clinton. When the service was over, the body bearers carried the casket over the ridge and into the Rose Garden, followed by President Clinton and former Presidents George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford. It was difficult to quiet the tendency to think about what a disaster it would be to suffer a cracked note with such a distinguished audience, but I kept reminding myself to just do the same thing I did for every veteran's ceremony I had performed in Washington since joining the Navy Band four years earlier. No one was less worthy of my absolute best effort, and if that was good enough before, then it would be sufficient on that day too.
When the moment came for the rendering of honors, the firing party came smartly to attention and fired their three volleys with exact precision, and I brought my trumpet to my lips and started the first note of Taps. I remember being startled when I heard a delayed echo of my sound coming from the loudspeakers on the other side of the estate. It was rather loud coming from the speakers, and pretty distracting, and I remember actually closing my eyes in order to maintain my focus on what I was doing and not react to the echo of myself. Because of its long tradition and the association with honoring the sacrifices of our veterans, the 24 notes of Taps are profoundly moving for most Americans. My mission was simply to be the messenger, to intone the melody without any overstated personal expression, and let the quiet simplicity of it ring in the hearts of those who were grieving their president. Sixty seconds later, I brought my horn down, saluted my former president, and stood at attention while the body bearers folded the flag. Once the flag was presented to Mrs. Nixon, I did an about-face and departed the site.
The other notable experience also involved the playing of taps in a funeral ceremony, this time on September 11, 2001. I was assigned to two ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, at 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. On my way to the cemetery that morning, I was listening to the radio, and the reports of the first plane crash in New York were just coming in as I was getting ready to take my position for the first ceremony. The details were still sketchy, and I was left wondering what had happened as I waited for the first funeral procession to arrive. After rendering honors and leaving the site, I drove my car to the other end of the ceremony to take my post for the 10:00 service. I kept the radio tuned to the news station and learned of the second plane crash at the World Trade Center. In part because I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and partly because the news details were unclear, I pictured that these were small planes, like Cessna trainers, that had suffered tragic accidents.
At 9:37, I was sitting in my car just across Washington Boulevard from the Pentagon when I heard the horrible sound of American Airlines Flight 77 as it screamed past under full throttle and buried itself into the southwest wall of the Pentagon. Because I was nearly in the path of the plane and it was traveling at almost the speed of sound, I only heard the sound of the incoming plane for less than a quarter-second, and then the roar of the explosion as it sent up a massive plume of red flame and black smoke. As the flames continued, buses of military honor guard troops evacuated the cemetery, and distant sirens began sounding as they arrived on the scene from surrounding communities. Wondering what to do next, I went to the Visitor's Center, where I found the Chaplain who was to preside over the 10:00 ceremony, and I asked him what he was going to do. His response was calm: "I don't know about your schedule, Chief, but I have a funeral to conduct in ten minutes."
I returned to the Columbarium, and at 10:00 the procession arrived. With the wail of sirens on the ground and helicopters in the air and the huge plumes of flame and smoke billowing from the Pentagon just across the road, the Chaplain performed the rites of burial, and at the usual moment, I rendered honors as I had done hundreds of times over the last ten years, and after the flag was folded, I departed the site.
Both these incidents stand out in my memory, for obvious reasons. After performing hundreds of these types of ceremonies through the years, they can become routine; we can tend to think of them as “just another funeral.” These two events are standouts in my memory because of their unique circumstances, but they serve as a reminder that no matter how “routine” this service can seem to us, it is never routine to those in the audience who are grieving their loved one. Even though we might be on number sixteen for the month, it is likely to be the only military funeral this family will attend in their lives. Our performances should never be considered “routine.” By always embracing the routine tasks as special, we prepare ourselves to carry out the special tasks as routine.