JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. --
Members of The U.S. Air Force Band are remarkably skilled, world-class musicians who exhibit the highest degree of excellence and service on missions each and every day. Saxophonist Master Sgt. Jeremy Koch is no exception. Sgt. Koch currently serves as principal saxophonist of The U.S. Air Force Band Concert Band, a position he has held since 2015. He will retire in June of 2022, celebrating 24 years of dedicated service with The U.S. Air Force Band.
An exceptional and dynamic saxophonist, Sgt. Koch has been a featured soloist with the Concert Band on numerous national tours and international conferences. Furthermore, he can be heard on countless recordings with the Concert Band, including the 2018 premiere recording of Joel Love’s saxophone concerto entitled, “Solace.”
A proponent of new music, Sgt. Koch has also commissioned and premiered solo, saxophone quartet and reed quintet works at several conferences, such as the World Saxophone Congress, North American Saxophone Alliance, International Saxophone Symposium, U.S. Navy Band International Saxophone Symposium, International Double Reed Society Conference and the American Composers Forum.
With several other members of the Concert Band, Sgt. Koch was a founding member of Reed 5, a reed quintet consisting of clarinet, saxophone, oboe, bass clarinet, and bassoon. The ensemble frequently performs concerts and masterclasses throughout the United States, and has produced two recordings. He also performs with the Six Impossible Things and the Great Noise ensembles.
Originally from Chicago, Sgt. Koch holds the Bachelor of Music degree in performance from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He later received a Master of Music degree in performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he performed with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera, Prairie Ensemble, and Estilo Chicago. He studied with world-renowned saxophonists such as Debra Richtmeyer, Jonathan Helton, Michael Chesher, Jean-Marie Londeix at Le Domaine Forget, James Umble, and Richard Parrell Sr.
A committed and selfless teacher, Sgt. Koch maintains a private studio in Northern Virginia and is adjunct professor of saxophone at Shepherd University and Northern Virginia Community College. In addition, he has presented saxophone masterclasses at universities across the nation including the Eastman School of Music, Cincinnati College-Conservatory, Arizona State University, and the Universities of Central Michigan, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Illinois, and North Carolina among others.
In addition to performing, members of The U.S. Air Force Band serve in various mission-support positions, such as operations, supply and auditions, just to name a few. Sgt. Koch has worn many hats throughout his 24-year Air Force career, including managing the Band’s chamber music series, and his favorite, guest artist relations. He states, “Serving in guest artist relations allowed me the opportunity to meet and work with the highest-caliber musicians, their management, and support teams. Some of the most-valuable skills that I learned from this experience were the ability to adapt to an ever-shifting environment, organization of communications and details, and constructing and negotiating contracts.”
It would be challenging for anyone with Sgt. Koch’s varied and vast performance career to pinpoint the most impactful performance. For Sgt. Koch, the experience of recording and performing “Solace” comes to the forefront. He recalls, “I was grateful that I was able to perform several saxophone concerti countless times across the country on tour, but performing ‘Solace’ stands out as a highlight, as I was part of the consortium that commissioned this work. With former Band commander Colonel Larry H. Lang, we were also the first to record this increasingly popular work.”
Another performance that was notable for Sgt. Koch was playing on a Guest Artist Series concert with the funk sensation, Kool and the Gang. He explains, “I have never felt a collective electricity like that on stage before!”
As his retirement date draws closer, Sgt. Koch reflects on what he enjoyed the most in his time with the Band, and what he will miss the most. Simply, the people he has met along the way.
“I have enjoyed meeting and working with highly-talented people, and in turn, making lifelong friendships. I will miss the people that make the Band such a warm and engaging place to work, as well as touring the country twice a year,” he reminisces.
In December of 2021, The U.S. Air Force Band will hold auditions for the tenor and baritone saxophone positions in the Concert Band. As a seasoned educator, Sgt. Koch offers advice for young aspiring musicians wanting to play in an Air Force Band.
“Practice, record yourself, and listen! Besides practicing and recording yourself, listening is essential in growth as a musician. Like learning a language, musicians need to study and listen to the nuances of phrasing, tone, intonation, time, and style by masters of all genres of music.”
The U.S. Air Force Band gives a warm and heartfelt thanks to Master Sgt. Koch for his 24 years of expertise, dedication and service to the U.S. Air Force! Best wishes in your future endeavors!