by Musician 1st Class Jonathan Yanik
Coming back to Ann Arbor is like returning to a second home for me, as U of M is where I got my master's degree and also where I was living when I auditioned and eventually accepted the job in the Navy Band.
Ann Arbor is a great city that offers outstanding world-class restaurants like Zingermanns, a thriving arts scene bringing in outstanding musicians and artists from all over the country and the world, and (obviously) is home to one of the most renowned state schools in the country (though I'm sure Ohio and Michigan state fans would tell you differently). Although I only lived in Ann Arbor about a year and a half, it is certainly one of my favorite places to visit and it was an honor for me to play here as a part of the Navy Band, especially as a soloist, able to play knowing my saxophone teacher at U of M, Don Sinta, was in the audience to listen.
Although we missed out on playing at the legendary Hill Auditorium in downtown Ann Arbor, we played a great concert for a packed house of enthusiastic Ann Arborites at Pioneer High School, right across from Michigan stadium (the big house). I found it funny personally that they especially responded excitedly when they heard in my introduction that I was once a Wolverine myself, cutting off Courtney mid-sentence to cheer out things like "go blue" or "hail to the victors." As you might expect, all the Big Ten schools have fierce allegiance to their "own," which is why the rivalries are so heated and great.
The crowd seemed to really enjoy all of the selections we picked, from the easy crowd-pleasing pieces like the traditional marches or "Battle Hymn" to the challenging works like "Spin Cycle" or "Firebird." Overall, it seems like the band is on a roll this tour as the audiences have been very responsive to our concerts overall and tonight may have been the most appreciative of all.
I think it's safe to say that the band seemed to enjoy themselves in Ann Arbor so far, and today we will all get a chance to explore downtown Ann Arbor even more after the concert at Michigan State in East Lansing.
Musician 1st Class Jonathan Yanik is the principal saxophonist in the Concert Band.