The Army Ground Forces Band WWQ Performs in Chicagoland

By SGT Kailin Eskander
The Army Ground Forces Band

News story photo
Photo credit: Cathryn Siegerdt
The Quintessential Winds in front of "Sue" at The Field Museum of Natural History.
FORT McPHERSON, Ga. March 18, 2010-- Quintessential Winds, the woodwind quintet of The Army Ground Forces Band, performed in Chicagoland and central Illinois, Feb. 7-17.
The group consisted of Spc. Gokben “Gigi” Gurdemir on flute, Sgt. Kailin Eskander on oboe, Sgt. Andrew Dykes on horn, Sgt. Paul Ewert on bassoon and Sgt. Darren Siegerdt on clarinet.
“Why Chicago in the winter?” one host asked.
The answer: the quintet knew it would be performing in February. Sgt Siegerdt, the group’s leader and a native of Elmhurst, Ill., suggested the Chicago area and down into central Illinois because he had connections with former band directors and faculty in the area and at his alma maters.
The quintet performed for four high schools and five colleges as well as at The Field Museum of Natural History.
“The trip officially kicked off with a deep dish pizza dinner at Sgt. Siegerdt’s mother’s house the night we all arrived,” said Spc. Gurdemir.
The following morning, the first performance took place at Mundelein High School in Chicago. The other high schools where the ensemble played were Lincoln-Way West High School, York Community High School and Willowbrook High School.
The quintet also performed at Elmhurst College, VanderCook College, Northern Illinois University, the University of Illinois and Illinois State University.
The five musicians even participated in an hour-long interview and performance on WILL-FM, the National Public Radio affiliate that covers central Illinois.
The program usually began with a quirky skit based on the Reveille bugle call. The clarinet player, Siegerdt, would march out, execute a center face to orient himself toward the audience and play the bugle call. The other four members would then run out on line from off stage.
It was a simulated frantic mess, with the players acting confused and silly and executing improper salutes before scampering to their chairs to join in harmony on the Reveille call.
Siegerdt would follow up by introducing the group as “not your typical woodwind quintet.”
“We like to have a little fun and shake things up a bit,” he would say.
Then the program continued with Dance of the Buffoons by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
An audience favorite was an arrangement of W.C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues, in which the group showed its versatility and ability to play in various musical styles.
“The program was chosen to demonstrate the different types of music an Army Band woodwind quintet would use in its regular working schedule,” Siegerdt noted. “Marches for military ceremonies, standard repertoire for college tours and fun, short pieces for luncheons and special events.”
The musical performances were followed up by question and answer sessions during which students asked about what life is like as a military musician.
“They were curious about the soldierly responsibilities, attending basic training, exercise, pay, benefits, and educational assistance,” Ewert said. “In some venues, we were able to coach a student quintet in a piece it was working on.”
On Valentine’s Day, the ensemble played in The Field Museum atrium, just in front of where Sue, “the largest, most complete, and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil yet discovered,” stands.
Many families and couples spent their Valentine’s Day exploring the museum, and they were welcomed into the beautiful museum’s regal foyer by the music of The Army Ground Forces Band’s woodwind quintet.
Overall, the members of the Quintessential Winds believe they made a great impression in Illinois.

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