U.S. Army Field Band Summer Concert Series finishes with a bang—literally

By Jonathan E. Agee
The United States Army Field Band

News story photo
Photo credit: Master Sergeant Robert McIver
Cannon blasts from the 3rd United States Infantry Salute Battery accompanied the Field Band’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Overture 1812”.
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md.—The United States Army Field Band closed the Summer Concert Series on a high note Saturday night at Constitution Park, with performances by each of their performing components: America's Big Band - the Jazz Ambassadors, The Volunteers, and the Concert Band and Soldiers’ Chorus.

Well over a thousand of people were in attendance to see the performance and the Field Band did not disappoint. The concert featured a variety of music, from country to classical and everything in between. In addition, there were performances by The United States Army Drill Team and The Presidential Salute Battery from the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard.”

“I thought they were incredible,” said Jannette Bolling, attendee. “I sat, relaxed, and listened to the music. I liked the Jazz Ambassadors, and The Volunteers were great. And the Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus were absolutely wonderful. This is a great band. I never had the opportunity to sit and listen to them, and they are great—absolutely great.”

One of the most exciting aspects of the concert were guest performances from Field Band Alumni, a tradition for the Fort Meade Summer Concert Series. The mix of talent and style provided attendees with a unique opportunity to hear a sound that spanned generations.

For the members of the alumni, being reunited with the band was a thrilling experience.

“I’m having a great time being with old friends and playing with the best band in the world,” said Alan Potter, Field Band trombonist 1975–2000. “Every year I go to hear another band in the area . . . and I think, ‘man they are good.’ Then I think, ‘Wow, the Field Band used to be pretty good.’ Then I come here for a Field Band Concert and I am blown away every time.”

Members of the Field Band also appreciated playing with the alumni. “I’m more familiar with one of the alumni, Charles Almeida, because he started the Jazz Ambassadors,” said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Young, pianist for the Jazz Ambassadors. “He really loves the band and loves coming back and playing with us. That’s always a treat, to be linked up with some historical performers . . . He is from an older generation and they have a certain way of approaching tunes and music and expressing themselves. It’s not necessarily playing fast like the younger players; it’s more like saying something. The older guys have more of a story to tell, whereas us younger guys are still forming our story. They get up there and tell the story and they don’t care how it sounds or what notes come out. They are just jamming, that’s what I like.”

And what does Charlie Almeida think of the band he helped form more than 40 years ago? “They have exceeded my expectations, by all means,” said Almeida. “To be back with the band is the greatest feeling in the world. It is the biggest thrill you can get!”

For those in attendance on Saturday, it may have seemed like just another stellar performance from the Field Band. But those who have known the band since its beginning recognize some of the improvements made over the years.

“I hate to say this to the old-timers, but it is much better organized now. You learn these things over the years,” said Frank Granofsky, Field Band percussionist 1949–1981. “The esprit de corps is still here.”

“The musicians in the band have always been good,” said John Wojcik, Field Band clarinetist 1969–1972. “I think they are playing more diversified pieces now. The guys now are playing different music and it gives them more opportunities.”

In keeping with Field Band tradition, the concert came to a close with the performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Overture 1812,” featuring cannon blasts from the 3rd United States Infantry Salute Battery. The Salute Battery also joined the Field Band on their final number, John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” It was the perfect ending to the 2010 Fort Meade Summer Concert Series.

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