Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Navy Band Visits St. Thomas

As part of the Navy Band's diversity intitiative, a small group of band members traveled on Sunday to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the home island of Alton Augustus Adams, the Navy's first African American bandmaster. On Monday, the group visited the Antilles School, a pre-K through 12th grade private school in St. Thomas, to present "Pioneers of Navy Music: A History of African-Americans in the Navy Music Program" to music students and faculty. This presentation chronicles the life and legacy of Chief Musician Adams and his efforts to establish a local band on the Virgin Islands. This band was to become the U.S. Navy Band of the Virgin Islands when the islands were purchased by the U.S. from Denmark in 1917, and placed under the authority of the U.S. Navy.

In the afternoon, the group had a discussion with Adams family members and friends, who reminisced about Alton and his influence on the local musical and cultural scene. Our head archivist, Senior Chief Musician Mike Bayes (and the producer of the Navy Music Pioneers program) and his archives assistant, Senior Chief Musician Jim Logan had a chance to ask questions about Adams and what he was like as a father, friend and an influential member of the community.

Today, we'll head to the Adelita Cancryn school, where band musicians will conduct workshops and clinics with music students. It promises to be an interesting and engaging outreach to students involved in their school's band program. I look forward to blogging about the today's activities, and during the rest of this week.

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

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