Guest conductor takes Army Field Band to new heights

By Jonathan E. Agee
The United States Army Field Band

News story photo
Photo credit: Master Sgt. Robert McIver
Dr. John Lynch, Director of Bands and Professor of Music at the University of Georgia, conducts the Concert Band during a performance Jan. 20 at River Hill High School in Maryland.
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- The Concert Band of the United States Army Field Band had a different sound during Friday’s performance at River Hill High School in Maryland. The band performed a challenging program of 20th century American Music, featuring the music of Aaron Copland, John Mackey, and more. But the reason for the unique sound was not due to the difficulty. Instead, it had everything to do with the guest conductor.

Dr. John Lynch, Director of Bands and Professor of Music at the University of Georgia, was scheduled to work with the Concert Band for four days before the concert. When he arrived, however, he was asked to prepare the Concert Band in just three days.

Losing a quarter of his rehearsal time made Lynch nervous. But shortly after working with the Soldiers, he realized the extra rehearsal was not needed. The level of expertise attained by each Soldier-Musician in the Concert Band allowed the conductor and musicians to reach peak performance in the shortened time.

When selecting music for the concert, Lynch chose pieces with a common theme. “I like to craft programs that have pieces that somehow connect to one another,” said Lynch. “I just thought it would be fantastic to do an all-American program.” Lynch mixed older pieces (by composers such as Aaron Copland) with the music of newer composers (such as Joel Puckett), to juxtapose the two ends of the spectrum.

Those in attendance seemed to appreciate the performance. “The crowd loved the concert,” said Sgt. Maj. Leslie Nock, Army Field Band support group leader. “Everybody sitting around me was in awe. After each particular piece there were comments like, ‘that was awesome,’ ‘that was fantastic,’ ‘I never heard a group play that well in this area’… it was executed flawlessly. It was a fabulous concert.”

Editor’s note: Hours before Friday’s concert, Dr. John Lynch took time to speak with the commander and conductor of the Army Field Band, Col. Timothy Holtan. Lynch talked about how he got started in music, what it was like to work with the Army Field Band, and how he selected the specific pieces for the concert. See the full interview here: http://youtu.be/YfIUqxXFuAY

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