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Upcoming Cellist Audition Provides Unique Opportunities

Members of the U.S. Air Strings cello section perform during a video taping of the broadcast: American Valor, sponsored by the American Veteran Center.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Burns)

Members of the U.S. Air Strings cello section perform during a video taping of the broadcast: American Valor, sponsored by the American Veteran Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Burns)

Christine Lightner, Principal Cellist of the Air Force Strings, performs at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Spencer Slocum)

Christine Lightner, Principal Cellist of the Air Force Strings, performs at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Spencer Slocum)

Senior Master Sgt. Josh Kowalsky, cellist with the Air Force Strings, performs during one of many orchestra concerts throughout the year (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. (ret) Bob Kamholz)

Senior Master Sgt. Josh Kowalsky, cellist with the Air Force Strings, performs during one of many orchestra concerts throughout the year (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. (ret) Bob Kamholz)

JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. --

Within the walls of historic Hangar 2 on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, The United States Air Force Band diligently carries out its mission to: honor those who have served, inspire Americans to heightened patriotism and service, and connect with the global community on behalf of the United States of America. The Strings, one of six ensembles that make up The U.S. Air Force Band, is currently searching for an accomplished cellist to join its ranks.

Members of the Strings wear many hats, performing in various styles and circumstances. Typical duties include performing with the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, the Strolling Strings, the Chamber Players series, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Salon Orchestra, and ceremonial missions.

Master Sgt. Christine Lightner, the Strings' principal cellist, elaborates on the job description:

We regularly perform at the White House, State Department, and residences of the Vice President, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chief of Staff of the Air Force. We also have an educational outreach program where we perform at schools and present master classes. In addition to the performing duties in the Band, members are free to participate in the vibrant local freelance and teaching scene during their free time.

The Strings may be a good fit for someone who thrives on variety, as there is no typical workday. Rehearsals depend on the particular job and the ensemble required for the performance. Sgt. Lightner explains:

If we have Strolling Strings concerts approaching, then we rehearse as a full ensemble. If we have String Orchestra concerts, we rehearse based on the conductor's schedule and the repertoire's difficulty. If one is involved in a Chamber Players concert, then we rehearse based on the group's needs. Each of us also holds a mission support duty. Add to that personal practice and exercise time, and it makes for a day filled with variety and productivity.

With over 80 accomplished applicants typically attending, winning a Strings audition is no easy feat.  Many of these applicants have spent numerous years studying at the top universities and conservatories. Not only must applicants be technically and musically proficient, but they must qualify to join the U.S. Air Force, enjoy working with a team, and possess other qualities. Chief Master Sgt. Henry Tyzsler, the Strings flight chief, expands on some of these other qualities:

They must play many music styles, such as classical, pop, and Broadway tunes, and in many types of ensembles, such as chamber ensembles and everything in between. Many of our performances are performed by memory, so strong memorization and sight-reading skills will serve them well in this position. Also, they need to be flexible since performance requirements can change quickly. We expect everyone to be self-motivated and to always come to rehearsal prepared to their fullest.

The audition is scheduled for April 6-7 with materials due on March 2, 2021. For additional information, please visit our website here.