Congratulations to our newest senior chief petty officers! The Navy announced this afternoon that Chief Musicians Bob Couto, Pete Czekaj, Laura Grantier, Bill Mulligan and Steve Williams were selected for advancement.
Couto currently performs as principal trumpet in the Concert Band, and he also serves as section leader, managing all Concert/Ceremonial trumpet section matters. He enjoys spending his free time traveling with family, reading, and painting.
Chief Musician Laura Grantier, from Natchez, Miss., And Denham Springs, La., joined the Navy Band in 1995. She earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of Alabama in 1993 and is currently assistant principal clarinet. Prior to her appointment with the Navy Band she was pursuing a Master of Music at the Eastman School of Music.
As an undergraduate, Grantier won the University Concerto Competition and traveled to Guatemala and Costa Rica to perform recitals and teach masterclasses. She has performed at the Morges Music Festival in Morges, Switzerland, and with the Rochester Chamber Orchestra, Annapolis, Arlington, McLean, New World, and Tuscaloosa Symphonies. She was principal clarinet of the American-Russian Youth Orchestra in 1995 and was a semi-finalist in the 1992 Ciudad de Dos Hermanas competition in Seville, Spain and the 1996 International Clarinet Association Young Artists Competition in Paris, France. She has appeared as a soloist with the Navy Band and the Alabama Symphony and was also a featured soloist with the Fayetteville High School Wind Ensemble in Georgia and at the 23rd annual Alabama Honor Band Festival in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Grantier is a member of the Harbor Winds clarinet quartet, and is also pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts at the Catholic University of America. Her teachers include Eugene Mondie, Kenneth Grant, and Scott Bridges.
In addition to her music degrees, Grantier also holds an Master of Business Administration from Averett University. She serves as the medical liaison and as an assistant command fitness leader. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, running, and mountain biking in Moab, Utah.
Mulligan has performed with the National Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the Columbus, Baltimore, and Richmond Symphony Orchestras and was featured with the Master Chorale of Washington at the Kennedy Center. He has played with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, and performs regularly with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. He has also appeared with such renowned artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow, Bernadette Peters, Doc Severinsen, Stanley Turrentine and Joe Lovano. Prior to joining the Navy Band, he toured Europe with the musical “Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies,” and traveled to six continents as a musical director for Princess Cruises.
Mulligan has served as the Commodores’ librarian, leading petty officer, command woodwind section supply manager, and command assessment team enlisted head. He is currently the Commodores’ leading chief petty officer. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, and is an avid bicyclist and scuba diver.
Williams has appeared on several albums including the Grammy-winning “Caribbean Jazz Project/Afro-Bop Alliance Big Band featuring Dave Samuels.” He played lead alto saxophone with The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, toured with The Glenn Miller Orchestra and was a semi-finalist in the 1988 Hennessey Cognac Jazz Search. He has performed with Joe Williams, Linda Carter, The Temptations, Rita Moreno, Jim Neighbors, Linda Lavin, Hal Linden, Eddie Fisher, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, The Ice Capades, The Mills Brothers, Floyd Cramer, Al Hirt, Boots Randolph, Wayne Newton, Maureen McGovern, and many others. He has also performed with The Fort Worth, Richmond, and Baltimore Symphonies as well. Prior to the Navy Band, Williams was a bandmaster and sideman with Crystal, Princess, Norwegian Caribbean, Premier, and American Hawaii Cruise Lines.
Williams attended North Texas State University where he played lead alto saxophone in the famed One O’ Clock Lab Band. While there he studied saxophone with Jim Riggs. He briefly attended Florida State University where he studied saxophone with Patrick Mieghan and improvisation with Bill Kennedy, and he later led an ensemble that won the 1988 National Collegiate Jazz Competition.