Visiting musicians and KSC students perform together
The United States Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus brought pride and community to the Redfern Arts Center on March 29.
The Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus is comprised of active duty soldiers who perform around the country. The band was officially formed in 1946 and has performed in all 50 U.S. states, as well as various other countries.
The opportunity to perform at Keene State College arose very suddenly, with about a two-week turnaround, according to Director of the Redfern Arts Center, Shannon Mayers.
Tickets were free, but the concert sold out. “I think, in a way the suddenness and opportunistic quality of the programming was exciting for our community, especially since we’ve had such a lousy winter,” Mayers said.
The concert additionally enlisted 14 music students from the college to perform John Philip Sousa’s “El Capitan” with the army.
Students from the choir were selected to perform with the chorus, while the college’s band selected its members from students who volunteered.
“I quickly volunteered and was able to be one of the lucky eight instrumentalists,” Robert Cooper, a KSC student who played trumpet during the concert, said. “Altogether my preparation time was about two hours,” he added.
“The performance was a wonderful experience,” Emily DeAngelis, a vocal performance student who sang soprano with the chorus, said.
“I have never been able to have the experience of working with such highly-trained musicians. There was a high level of professionalism and the music was incredible,” DeAngelis said.
Both DeAngelis and Cooper said students were emailed the music they were to perform and practiced individually before the concert. On the night of the performance, they also had the opportunity to meet members of the army band.
“I met the conductor who was very welcoming to us musicians participating,” Cooper said. “I also spoke to a horn player about how she got into the band and the process regarding auditions for the ensemble,” Cooper further explained.
“I greatly enjoyed getting to speak with the woman who was part of the Soldiers’ Chorus,” DeAngelis said.
“It was interesting to discover that many of them have the same degrees in music that me and my fellow students are currently pursuing,” DeAngelis continued.
Mayers said many war veterans attended the program.
“There were a lot of veterans with hats from different wars, and it was very nice to see,” she said. “It was an event that could be multigenerational. In that sense the event was very community-building,” Mayers stated.
The concert covered a wide repertoire of songs, including patriotic music, jazz and pieces from West Side Story, according to the event program. “They’re quite various in what they do,” Mayers said. “There was a lot of choral work in the performance. It was pretty broad and the audience really liked that.”
“From a musician’s standpoint, everything the band played was right on pitch,” Cooper said. “It was rhythmically accurate and balanced. I hope the audience heard that.”
According to Mayers, the performance was well-performed and well-received.
“The audience took great pride in what they were participating in that night, and you could tell the feeling was genuine,” Mayers said.
Mayers continued, “They did the Battle Hymn of the Republic at the end and the audience just stood up. It was incredible. There was a lot of electricity.”
Anthony Munoz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org