U.S. Army Field Band Thrills Spectators

By Reece Murphy
The Daily Record - Dunn, NC

News story photo
The U.S. Army Field Band’s trumpet section wows the audience during section solos.
If there is one word to describe Friday night's performance by the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers Chorus at Triton High School, it is patriotic.

"We saw them the last time they were here (in 2003) and wanted to bring the grandchildren," veteran Larry Overby of Erwin said. "The talent of these kids is amazing. It just brings out a strong sense of patriotism in me."

As the U.S. Army's premiere touring band, the Field Band has toured the country and world for more than 50 years. During the almost two-hour show Friday night, the 95-member band and chorus played and sang a range of selections.

"It was just wonderful, just beautiful," said June Carpenter of Erwin, among the crowd of almost 1,000 people to attend. "I'm very impressed with the musical range, how they played everything from opera to ragtime to marching music, a beautiful range.

"We have somebody from every branch of the service in our family, so this is in my heart," she said.

Among the selections, which change with each show, were "Manhattan Beach," "King Cotton" and "The Stars and Stripes Forever" by John Philip Sousa, selections from the musical "Ragtime" and numbers from the acclaimed "A Night at the Opera."

During the show, a select group of students from the Triton High School Band got a chance to play with the band.

"I was nervous because there were notes I didn't think I could hit," said trumpet player Jasmine Paddock. "But it was actually pretty cool. The musicians were really nice and encouraging."

Tuba player Antwan McNeill, who also serves as one of two drum majors for the school's marching band, said though the experience was scary at first, the Field Band's musicians inspired him to "rip it."

"It was really cool, all the lights and people," he said. "Once you start playing with the other musicians and you hear them, it kind of challenges you, makes you feel like you can play better."

Triton's band director, Jim Montgomery, knows a thing or two about playing in a military field band - he was a flute player with the 82nd Airborne Division Band from 1992 to 2004. During that time he toured the country with several ensembles.

Mr. Montgomery said the experience made a mark on him and is sure to do the same for his students.

"It's nice because I've got some very talented kids who are getting a chance to play with such an outstanding group," he said. "This is one of the most recognized ensembles in the military.

"It certainly compares to any major symphony out there," Mr. Montgomery said. "As a person you can't help but grow, playing with them."

Friday night's show was the second stop of a 32-day tour for the Field Band. During the tour, the band and chorus members work hard, traveling and playing in 10-day stretches.

Band percussionist Master Sgt. Tom Enokian of Albany, N.Y., said the tour is one of 100 shows they'll play during the year. Band members will spend the rest of their time producing and filming educational videos and teaching master classes at the nation's high schools, he said.

"It's a great assignment," he said. "We get to represent our troops and play our music. It's a win-win situation for us. Now more than ever it's good for us all to remember there are soldiers out there protecting our freedoms."

Col. Thomas H. Palmatier, commander and conductor of the Field Band, said it was great to leave Washington, D.C., where the band is stationed, to represent the Army in the rural backbone of the nation.

"We have the wonderful job of traveling through the United States, and from the smallest to the biggest cities I think we know what makes this country great more than anybody else," Col. Palmatier said. "It's the people of those areas, especially those who answer the call of duty to serve.

"The phrase I use is they're the 'strength of our nation,'" he said. "And we're honored to represent them."

Dunn Mayor Oscar Harris attended the show along with his wife, Jean, and grandson David.

"It was very positive, upbeat and something we needed at this time," he said of the show. "I want to thank The Daily Record for sponsoring the event here tonight at Triton High School.

"It was a great experience for the people who were able to attend; something that will be remembered for a long time," he said.


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