Friday, October 21, 2011

Fair Winds and Following Seas: Chief Musician Tia Wortham

Thursday morning's workshops were very much like the others we've attended on St. Thomas: hearty greetings from students eager to learn and absorb everything the Navy Band can teach them about music. We spent the morning with band students at the Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School, and, like all the others, they were polite, well-behaved and very enthusiastic. The group rehearsal and sectional workshops were very productive.

In the evening, the band members reprised their presentation of "Navy Pioneers: A History of African Americans in Navy Music" at the Boschulte Middle School. This recital was open to the public, and attended by hundreds of very enthusiastic music lovers and admirers of Alton Augustus Adams and the African American musicians that played such pivotal roles in the Navy music program throughout America's history.

This trip by the Navy Band ends on a bittersweet note, as we say goodbye to a shipmate who is retiring after 22 years of service to the Navy and the nation. Chief Musician Tia Wortham, principal bassoonist in the Concert/Ceremonial Band, leaves us after an incredibly varied career. Besides her primary duty as a bassoonist, she was a vocalist and guitarist, and played the saxophone on ceremonies. Tia even did a little dancing in a few of the band's summer productions! In an organization known for its versatility and wide-ranging talents, Tia was a standout. We'll miss her incredible musicianship, positive attitude and engaging personality. Fair winds and following seas, shipmate.

After a very busy and rewarding week of workshops, clinics, rehearsals and performances, this small contingent of the Navy Band returns to the crisp fall weather in Washington, D.C., leaving behind the tropical climes of St. Thomas, and its equally warm and sunny people. In every way, we've been made to feel as if we're a part of the family here on the Virgin Islands, and we think Alton Augustus Adams would be proud of the hundreds of music students we've met during our stay. They've been a delight, and we can't wait to come back!

Master Chief Musician Aaron Porter is the Navy Band's public affairs director.

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