Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Students visit Sail Loft

One of the ways that we love to interact with our local community is through educational outreach. Musicians in the Navy Band are typically well-educated and have a wide breadth of professional playing experience; some members are even part-time music professors at local colleges and universities. Imparting this musical knowledge to our youngest citizens is a great way for us to contribute as A Global Force For Good.

Today we were joined by students from Parkland Magnet Middle School, located 27 miles from the Washington Navy Yard in Rockville, Md. This is the second time that band director Steve Ragsdale has brought the group here.

Situated in the Sail Loft, Captain Brian O. Walden welcomed the 50-plus students to the home of the Navy Band. The Concert Band played several pieces that they'll be performing this weekend, including Jacques Offenbach's Overture to "Orpheus in the Underworld"; Antonin Dvorak's "Songs My Mother Taught Me," featuring Chief Musician Bob Couto on fluglehorn; "Mambo Italiano," featuring the Concert Band's female vocalist, Chief Musician Yolanda Pelzer; and James Beckel's "The Glass Bead Game," featuring Musician 1st Class Jason Ayoub on French horn.

After a short question and answer session, the students turned their chairs around to face the Commodores jazz ensemble. Unit Leader Senior Chief Musician Phil Burlin started off by mentioning that he and Ragsdale went to college together, and were briefly roommates, at St. Mary's College of Maryland. Burlin handed the microphone to the Commodores moderator, Chief Musician Bill Mulligan, and the music was underway.

The Commodores performed a mix of jazz standards, in addition to arrangements by members of the band. Selections included "I Love Being Here With You," arranged by Master Sgt. Alan Baylock of the United States Air Force Band; the Yellowjackets' "Spirit of the West," arranged by Musician 1st Class Dan LaMaestra; Don Menza's classic for the Buddy Rich Big Band, "Time Check"; and several tunes by saxophonist Donny McCaslin, arranged by Chief Musicians Rob Holmes and Steve Williams. McCaslin was the featured jazz soloist with the Commodores at the Navy Band's 35th International Saxophone Symposium, held several weeks ago. Mulligan explained each piece and acknowledged the soloists, as well as fielding the occasional question from students.

We hope that through our educational efforts, students can walk away with a better appreciation and understanding of music, the Navy Band, and their United States Navy.


Anonymous said...

Why aren't pictures and videos of the Commodores posted?

United States Navy Band said...

Unfortunately, the lighting in the middle of the Sail Loft wasn't good for still photography or video that afternoon. We've got some videos of the Commodores in the pipeline, so stay tuned!