There are many “behind the scenes” aspects of a Navy Band performance that are not seen by our audiences. The painstaking details are handled by Senior Chief Musician Keith Hinton and his productions team.
Tell us a little about yourself.I was blessed to have been raised in Yorktown, Va., a small town with a deep appreciation for history due to its significance in both the American Revolution and Civil War. My parents made certain my sister and I learned about the early history of the United States. Neither of my parents were musicians; nonetheless they were extremely supportive of my musical development, driving me all over southeastern Virginia for lessons and concerts.
At The Eastman School of Music I learned much more than how to play the flute. Being naturally curious, I had to know how everything worked: lights, stage mechanics, recording technology, conducting, arranging, anything to do with supporting musical and dramatic performance. While I enjoyed performing, I loved being part of the larger picture of creating a performance in its entirety, creating an altered reality for an audience.
What is your present position?I hold the title productions chief as a full time position. It has allowed me the time to build on the great work of the people who have preceded me. My role as productions chief is to take an idea or concept and put it into an entertaining and fulfilling musical product that can be enjoyed by a wide demographic. This sounds much easier than it is; the amount of time and research to develop each concert production is substantial. We have a dedicated command productions team which is essential to the creation and development of all of our concerts which include the Concerts on the Avenue, Navy birthday concert, and holiday concert
Another aspect of my position is video and multimedia development. Thanks to great work by our public affairs and Web team, the Navy Band has a strong presence on the internet and the videos we have created have been seen by over 30,000 people on our YouTube channel.
What led you to put performing in the background and place your energies into the productions position?
I am often asked why I moved from performing to production and my honest answer is this is the path God has led me. He instilled my interest in production over twenty years ago, led me to areas where I could develop various skills, and provided me the opportunity to put it into practice in the Navy Band.
What are your most memorable career highlights?
I have been part of six national concert tours with the Concert Band (two as soloist), eight tours with the Sea Chanters as musical director, two Great American Road Races, two Sweden military tattoos, four presidential inaugurations, and too many public concerts and ceremonies to remember. But, there are three that are very vivid in my memory. The first would be the National Prayer Service on Sept. 14, 2001, at the National Cathedral. The nation was in need of comfort and the Sea Chanters provided it with glorious singing. The outpouring of appreciation was humbling.
Second would be the memorial service for the space shuttle Columbia in February 2003. We sat directly in front of the grieving families whose faces I will never forget. It gave me even greater respect for the courage of our astronauts.
Third would be a private after-dinner performance the Sea Chanters gave at the White House for President George W. Bush. The performance was great, but it was the twenty minutes of private time we had with the president afterwards that I remember fondly.
What do you enjoy doing when not working?
I savor the time I spend with my immediate family and the church family. I like to travel and read, particularly scriptural or theological commentary.
Chief Musician Juan Vasquez is principal percussionist in the Concert Band.