- A Message from the Commanding Officer
- Navy Band remembers Sept. 11, 2001
- Navy Band celebrates the Navy's 236th birthday
- Cedric Peter Boehr 1957-2011
- Spotlight on...Chief Musician Scott Silbert
A Message from the Commanding Officer
As our summer concert season concludes, I want to take this opportunity to thank our patrons and sponsors for their continued support and the Navy Band support staff that work behind the scenes. Thank you all for helping us complete another successful summer. I would also like to mention that the many public performances listed on our website only convey part of what we do here at the U.S. Navy Band. We also perform for numerous other military and government events.
Sept. 11, 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack on our nation and we will be supporting several events to honor the courage and sacrifice of so many on that day. See the feature article entitled, "Navy Band Remembers Sept. 11, 2001."
This year also marks the 236th anniversary of the founding of our Navy, and to celebrate this momentous occasion we will perform our annual Navy birthday concert at DAR Constitution Hall. Hosted by the chief of naval operations, this year's concert is entitled "Blue Angels." This concert celebrates the birth of our great Navy and pays tribute to 100 years of naval aviation.
Country Current, our premier country/bluegrass ensemble, begins its national tour. A fan favorite and known for their dual role as both a country and bluegrass band, don't miss the opportunity to hear them when they visit your town. Please see their tour schedule in this issue.
Lastly, I'd like to thank and wish fair winds and following seas to Master Chief Musician Dave Miles, Navy Band's senior enlisted leader, upon his retirement after 30 years of dedicated service. Miles was an invaluable help to me personally and his unswerving and dedicated service to the men and women of the Navy Band, the Navy and the nation was a model for all of us to follow.
This fall is full of opportunities for you to hear the U.S. Navy Band. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Navy Band remembers Sept. 11, 2001
(As we approach the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, fanfare asked members of the band for their recollections of that day when everything changed. Due to space constraints, we cannot print all the submissions we received in this issue. Please see our Navy Band blog at www.usnavyband.blogspot.com for more recollections – Master Chief Musician Aaron Porter, PAO Chief.)
Lt. j.g. Geordie Kelly
Lt. j.g. Geordie Kelly was, until recently, stationed here at the Navy Band as third officer. He is now director, U.S. 7th Fleet Band in Yokusuka, Japan.
I was stationed in Naples, Italy, with the U.S. 6th Fleet Band. My wife was at the University of Oklahoma satellite office on board Naval Air Station Capodichino, where I went to meet her at the end of the work day [we were six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time]. We started to watch internet news [the quickest way to get news overseas] around 2 p.m. about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, and immediately thought it was a hoax. Around that same time, the base went to [force protection condition] delta and was locked down very tightly; no coming or going, and it was at that point that I knew this was no hoax. We sat together in disbelief and watched everything unfold online. We couldn't leave to pick up the kids from after-school care, and we couldn't get to phones to call home.
Everything changed. Band travel was immediately frozen, the base began to ask tenant commands for auxiliary security force personnel, and every gate to every American military installation was manned with heavily armed Italian army forces with armored vehicles, rocket launchers and automatic weapons. You couldn't help but feel patriotic in the months that followed. One of the most positive memories I have from that was that ALL of the foreign nationals from all of the NATO forces we served with were so incredibly empathetic; they were as devastated and sorrowful as Americans were. You could feel such a strong camaraderie with the forces from the other nations, which was a pleasant side effect stemming from one of the most heinous crimes ever committed.
Chief Musician John Parsons
Drummer with the Commodores jazz ensemble
It was my first official day with the Commodores and I was driving to the Navy Yard for a rehearsal to prepare for our fall tour. I usually listen to WTOP [a local Washington, D.C., radio station] for at least a few minutes to get traffic, but for some reason decided to listen to music instead. I was also trying to contact a colleague and found it strange that I had no cell service for the entire trip into the Navy Yard. Approaching the yard I noticed an unusual amount of police, fire and rescue activity. [I parked my car outside the yard and] noticed several people standing by their cars looking in one direction. Almost at that exact moment I saw a shipmate. I asked him what was going on. He pointed in the direction of the Pentagon and said, "See that smoke? That's the Pentagon burning and we're under attack." I watched in complete horror and disbelief at the smoke billowing from the distance. A few moments later the Navy Yard went into lockdown and they wouldn't allow anyone to leave or enter. Civilian employees started to panic as they were afraid and wanted to leave. Some started screaming at the gate guards to let them leave. The lockdown lasted for about forty minutes before they started to let people leave. Unable to get to the band room or communicate with anyone [by cell phone], I decided to head home. The city became gridlocked almost immediately and it took a very long time to get home.
Musician 1st Class David Babich
Saxophone instrumentalist with the Concert/Ceremonial Band
In my senior year of high school, shortly after 9 a.m., I was walking to my next class in the crowded hallways. I overheard a few people mention something about a disaster or plane crash but didn't think much of it. I arrived at my psychology class and we began as usual. A few minutes into class a teacher walked in and whispered something to our teacher. He immediately turned on the television and tuned it to a national news network. I then realized this wasn't a typical plane crash. Everyone was asking questions and our teacher couldn't keep up. I remember seeing replays of when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. A student asked if what we saw was a computer generated image and the teacher said, "No, this is actually happening." After the Pentagon was hit, another student asked if these were accidents. Our teacher brought us to a scary realization by saying, "Right now, America is under attack."
Later, I made my way to band rehearsal and everyone wanted to watch the news. We watched a few minutes and then our director turned off the television. We were disappointed but then surprised when he told us to get our instruments because we were going outside – an unusual place for us to rehearse. He had us play our slow, hymn-like warm-up for the surrounding neighborhood. It didn't mean much to me then but now that I look back, I understand how appropriate and fateful it was [that we were playing] "Eternal Father, Strong to Save "[the Navy hymn]. By the day's end, I knew the world would never be the same.
Senior Chief Musician Paul Johnson
MUCS Johnson has served the last several years as the band's administrative chief. He joined the Navy Band in 1989 as a trumpet instrumentalist.
I was assigned to two funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. On my way to the cemetery, 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 playing "Taps," I drove to the other end of the cemetery, across the street from the Pentagon, to visit the washroom and prepare for the 10 a.m. 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 details were unclear, I pictured that these were small planes, like Cessna trainers, that had crashed accidentally.
At 9:37 a.m., I was sitting in my car when I heard the horrible sound of American Airlines Flight 77 as it screamed past under full throttle, buried itself into the southwest wall of the Pentagon and sent up a massive plume of red flame and black smoke. As the flames continued, [first responders] arrived on the scene from surrounding communities. Wondering what to do next, I drove to the visitor's center where I found the chaplain who was to preside over the 10:00 a.m. 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 10 minutes." I returned to the columbarium, and at 10:00 a.m. the procession arrived. With the wail of sirens, 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 10 years. After the flag was folded and the funeral was over, I went home.
Chief Musician Laura Grantier
Clarinetist in the Concert/Ceremonial Band
Sept. 11, 2001 was my daughter Jolie's first day of daycare at Bolling Air Force Base. She was six weeks old. It was my first day back from maternity leave. After the attacks, I was upset because we couldn't leave the Navy Yard. The phone lines were down and I couldn't reach my daycare provider to see if Jolie was okay. I was terrified. When we were finally allowed to leave, it took me hours to drive over to Bolling to pick her up. The guards wouldn't let me drive on the base so I had to park my car and walk one mile with my stroller to the daycare center to retrieve her. I remember seeing black smoke rising up from the Pentagon and the absence of jet engine sounds from National Airport. It was a surreal and eerie feeling. I also remember the sky was so blue-not a cloud in the sky just a brilliant fall morning.
Navy Band's annual Silent Auction raises money for NMCRS
by Musician 1st Class Ken Fennell
Join the Navy Band on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. to celebrate the Navy's 236th birthday at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Hosted by the chief of naval operations, the theme of this year's concert is "Blue Angels", a celebration of the 100th anniversary of naval aviation.
This concert will take the listener on a journey that began 100 years ago to today's flight operations on the blue waters around the world. Ensembles and soloists from the Sea Chanters, the Cruisers, Country Current and the Concert Band will perform selections depicting the historic events that led to the formation of our Navy's modern flight program.
Naval aviation began in 1911 with the first successful shipboard take-off and landing in a Curtiss pusher biplane by civilian pilot Eugene Ely. This landmark event led to the Navy's purchase of its first airplane on May 8, 1911, and the beginning of naval aviation. Today's naval air forces, together with their Marine Corps and Coast Guard counterparts, ensure freedom and peace for America and her allies.
America's naval aviators can engage the enemy with a fast, flexible and forward deployed fighting force, and are a global force for good by responding with humanitarian aid and hope to areas of disaster around the globe. Be sure to join us for an entertaining and inspiring concert that pays tribute to 100 years of naval aviation. The concert is free and open to the public. Our new e-ticket procedures will be in effect. No physical tickets will be distributed or required for attendance, as seating at DAR Constitution Hall is open, except for box seats and reserved sections. To make your reservation please visit http:/navybirthdayconcert2011.eventsbot.com, or find the logo to the left on our site's home page. You may request up to four tickets and an email will automatically be sent to you confirming your reservation. As always, arriving early will assure the best seats.
Cedric Peter Boehr
The Navy Band was saddened to hear of the June 8 passing of Cedric Boehr, a tenor vocalist with the Sea Chanters from 1987 to 1991. Originally from Council Bluffs, Iowa, Boehr and his family moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., in August 2007 and began Military Family Ministries. He was finishing doctoral studies in marriage and family therapy and planned to open a family counseling center. The Navy Band extends heartfelt condolences to his wife Sandi and their families.
Spotlight on...Chief Musician Scott Silbert
by Senior Chief Musician Juan Vazquez
Chief Musician Scott Silbert has been a part of every performing ensemble with the Navy Band. As the band's head arranger, his compositions, arrangements and transcriptions have contributed greatly to the band's repertoire.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Philadelphia, raised in Orlando, Fla., and began my musical studies in junior high school. Until then I had no interest in anything other than skateboarding.
In junior high I was told that I would be a good candidate for the band program. I had seen a commercial for a big band era record collection and loved the sound of Benny Goodman's clarinet on his theme song, "Let's Dance." My mom and I went to the band director and asked for a clarinet but all that was left was an alto clarinet, so this became my first instrument. Soon after I discovered the limited playing and employment opportunities for an alto clarinet player and became disillusioned with the instrument. I was getting ready to quit when a trumpet player friend invited me over to his house to hear a Maynard Ferguson record. What really caught my ear was a baritone sax player named Bruce Johnstone and his solo on "Stay Loose with Bruce." Hearing him play on that tune changed my life and I knew at that moment that I had to be a musician. On Monday morning I went to the band director and asked for a baritone sax. We went back to the storage room and he pulled out an old silver plated Conn baritone sax.
I loved it and practiced ALL OF THE TIME. During high school I performed with the Florida all-state and all-county bands. While I had no interest in going to college, I did go to the local community college for a year but soon realized that all I really wanted to do was to practice and play music. I was hired for a full time job playing in the Kids of the Kingdom band and the World Band at Disney World in Orlando. I freelanced in the Orlando area playing for some really great performers and shows. This became my college education. I was able to sit next to some fantastic musicians and I learned while making a good income.
In 1990 I saw that there was an opening in the Navy Band Commodores jazz ensemble for a tenor sax player. At that time there were a lot of retired Navy Band musicians living in central Florida and they all encouraged me to audition. I flew to Washington, D.C., auditioned, and flew back to Orlando. The next day I received a call from Master Chief Musician Jerry Ascione asking me if I wanted the job. I said yes and here I am, 20 years later!
What led you to become an arranger with the band?
I had an interest in arranging and wrote some arrangements while working at Disney. When I came to the Navy Band, I saw it as a great opportunity to work on my skills and began arranging as much as I could for the Commodores. I was young and single and I would spend all of my free time arranging or practicing. In 1992 I met Manny Albam, a well-known arranger who agreed to take me as a student. In a very short time he completely changed my skill level and I became very serious about arranging. In 1998 there was an opening on the band’s arranging staff and I decided to audition. To my surprise I was accepted. I felt then and still do that I had more to contribute to the Navy Band as a writer than as a performer.
Can you give us a job description of the position?
My job as an arranger requires a lot of flexibility. I write for all of the band’s performing ensembles and any combination of the groups. A majority of my work is with the productions staff on major concerts that the band performs every year. This includes the holiday concert, birthday concert, Concerts on the Avenue, the International Saxophone Symposium and for national concert tours. I also write arrangements for all of the groups when something special is needed.
Tell us about working with the productions team.
The productions team is led by Senior Chief Musician Keith Hinton. He and the team members will come up with a show concept and script, and discuss what music will be needed for the production. My job as an arranger is to write all the music needed for the show for each performing group. Depending on the number of arrangements, this work can take anywhere from two to six months. That not only includes writing, arranging and orchestrating the music, but also preparing all of the parts for the musicians as well as the score for the conductor. Sometimes I will write new arrangements based on whatever tune is needed but many times I "transcribe" arrangements off of a recording. This requires listening to a recorded arrangement and literally picking out the notes that are being played and writing them into a score. The goal in writing transcriptions is to get my finished arrangement to sound as much as possible like the original recording. When required I send this information to our copyright coordinator to secure arrangement permission or license permission for any recordings.
The most remarkable feature of the band's musicians is their talent. They are required to perform several musical genres and they do it very well. As an arranger I've had to write everything from big band jazz, contemporary, Broadway, pop music and everything in between. It makes my job much easier knowing that what I write will be performed at such a high level.
The greatest aspect of my job is that I am learning something new every day. It is a constant challenge but very fulfilling.
Do you have any career highlights?
There have been many, but three that stand out are:
- Arranging and conducting for the wonderful jazz vocalist, Jane Monheit, for the 2010 Fourth of July concert in Washington, D.C. That was a thrill!
- The Sea Chanters' performance at the Sept. 11 Memorial Concert made me very proud.
- Performing with the Commodores in Ireland in 1998 was wonderful.
What's in your iPod right now?
I don't have an iPod. I'm still using my turntable and listening to records. I tend to be pretty eclectic in my listening. Lately I've been spending time with anything by the Beatles, Igor Stravinsky, Ben Webster and Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. It's all good!
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Most of my time is taken up with my love of music and my family, although I am an avid movie watcher. My wife and I operate a bed and breakfast so some of my free time is spent as an innkeeper.