Washington, D.C. --
The Concert Band and Singing Sergeants just wrapped up their fall 2017 concert tour, which started in Kansas City, MO and concluded in Indianapolis, IN. While on tour, the Concert Band and Singing Sergeanrs appeared on local television and radio stations, conducted clinics, masterclasses and panel discussions with music students, and performed for thousands of audience members throughout the Midwest. The 13-day tour concluded with a rousing performance at the Pike Performing Arts Center in Indianapolis, IN; but, what happens during that 13-day span? What is a tour actually like for a member of the USAF Band?
The Commander and Conductor of the USAF Band, Colonel Larry H. Lang had this to say,
“Our community outreach tours provide us a chance to connect with the American public, in small and large cities nationwide. That connection reaches into the local schools where the future leaders of our nation are being educated, as we work with music students in clinic and performance settings as part of our AIM (Advancing Innovation through Music) initiative.”
Frequently, members of the band and singers will perform for music students at high schools and universities. During these events, Band members may perform as a soloist or in a chamber ensemble, giving the students a rare opportunity for one-on-one discussion and feedback from Air Force Band members.
About why we tour throughout the country, Col. Lang continued,
“Through our performances we strive to demonstrate and represent Air Force excellence and professionalism, and to inspire citizens to a heightened sense of patriotism. We're also honored to pay tribute to the military veterans in each community we visit, along with their family members...those moments in our concerts are some of the most touching and rewarding. Using the power of music, performed by the outstanding Airmen-musicians, is a very effective way to maintain that vital connection between our Air Force and America."
The Concert Band and Singing Sergeants travel with 3 audio technicians and 4 members of the United States Honor Guard, also based at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C. Additionally, 4 buses and 2 tractor trailers, each requiring a driver and a mechanic, accompanies the team as well. Together, this caravan travels between cities throughout the continental U.S. and performs a concert every night within the tour area of the season.
Audiences are treated to a full, 2-hour program of instrumental and vocal music, started by the presentation of colors by the impeccable, United States Air Force Honor Guard. The Honor Guard’s solemn presentation of the American Flag and the flag of the United States Air Force create a formal and dignified setting for the evening’s performance, followed by the playing and singing of our National Anthem.
In addition to the standard repertoire of marches, symphonic pieces, vocal medleys and patriotic music, the concerts also feature instrumental and vocal soloists. One of the instrumental soloists from this fall’s tour was alto saxophonist, Technical Sgt. Carolyn Braus. This was her first opportunity to solo with the band, and she said the following,
“As a tour soloist, the whole experience was very rewarding. It was exciting to be featured as an artist and to hear the audience’s reaction to the piece.”
The fall 2017 tour also saw a number of new additions to the USAF Band who experienced their first tour as a band member. Alto vocalist, Technical Sgt. Hillary Grobe remarked,
“Tour is a rewarding experience, both musically and personally. Being my first tour, it was incredible to see the profound impact our musical mission had on these communities and to witness the enthusiasm of an audience in a sold out venue. One of my favorite parts of tour is having the honor to chat with veterans and members of the community following the show. I met some wonderful people from the Midwest who shared their stories of patriotism and pride for this country.”
Throughout the roughly 2-week span of time, band members might fly on planes, and certainly spend a lot of time sitting on buses, moving from one city to the next. Peppered with clinics, media appearances and performances throughout the nation, one has little time to take in the sights of our beautiful and diverse nation. However, it is truly an honor and privilege to represent our Air Force and our military to a national audience. Honoring veterans and inspiring a sense of patriotism is a cornerstone of our mission. We do it with pride, both within the Washington, D.C. area and while on tour.