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PRESS PAUSE: A Band’s Mission During a Global Pandemic

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sergeant Dawn Hoffman

The year 2020 has certainly been a challenging one for everyone, but it creates a special set of challenges when the mission includes interacting with large audiences. As part of the 193 Special Operations Wing’s Public Affairs component, the summer concert series the band performs each year for annual training relies heavily on crowds of spectators in outdoor settings.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 guidelines have grounded the band for the first time.   So, what does a band do when it cannot perform in public?

As Airmen, the Air National Guard Band of the Northeast has answered their Nation’s call and this summer is no exception. While we are usually out touring in public, the band has had to adapt to continue sharing the message of the United States Air Force through virtual performances. Many recording projects are underway both from the 193d Special Operations Wing level Public Affairs team and from the 553d Public Affairs team.  

"While we are familiar with performing we don’t often have the chance to hear ourselves from the audience point-of-view, so video recording projects give us a fresh perspective,” Technical Sergeant Myron Charowsky, a 24-year veteran of the band commented.  “Recording ourselves is fun!  It gives us a chance to work on details because we don’t usually get to hear ourselves like this.”

The Band’s Public Affairs team has risen to this new set of challenges in exemplary fashion. Senior Airman Katherine Tonkin, the band’s Website Manager and Graphic Designer and Senior Airman Kenneth Ayer, the band’s Social Media Representative have created a Spotlight Series to showcase our members.   The Series is a short video compilation of music and information about each of the members of the band, expressing “why” each member joined the Air Force. 

The newest member of the unit, Airman First Class Michael Zech has barely had enough time for introductions before jumping into the role of in-house audio and video engineer.   He has tackled the arduous task of compiling hours of video footage of each ensemble to create a virtual concert in lieu of a live performance. The goal of this project is to share the virtual concert with Veteran’s Hospitals and Centers to share the musical message to those most affected by the shutdown of visitors to their facilities.  

“One thing is certain, we won’t let this downtime change the focus of our mission.  We are musical ambassadors, fostering morale and raising support for our brothers and sisters in arms in all branches of military service,” nine year member of the trumpet section, Staff Sergeant Jeremy Carles remarked.  “Even if that means we record ourselves from our dining room table this year instead of performing in gazebos and band shells across America.   Rest assured we will not falter.  We can adapt and overcome any challenge we face.  We are American Airmen.”

Keep watch for some of our exciting new projects – and as always, if you are interested in more information, potential future performances, or joining our unit, please reach out to any of our members. We would love to meet you!