IC, West Point Concert Bands To Perform

The Ithaca College Concert Band will join the United States Military Academy Concert Band for a joint concert on Wednesday, Nov. 15. Free and open to the public, the performance will begin at 8:15 p.m. in Ford Hall in the James J. Whalen Center for Music.Lt. Col. Timothy Holtan will conduct the West Point ensemble in performing music by Sousa, Jager, Grainger, Khachaturian and Gorb. The featured soloists will be Staff Sgt. Diana Cassar-Uhl, a 1995 graduate of the Ithaca College School of Music, on clarinet, and Sergeant First Class MaryKay Messenger on vocals. The two bands will perform together on Richard Strauss’s “Allerseelen,” Eric Ewazen’s “…of Home and Country” and Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”The performance is the second part of an exchange between the two bands that was proposed by local music enthusiast and journalist Henry Stark. For the first part, the Ithaca College band visited the military academy to observe a slice of a professional military musician’s life and to rehearse for this concert.“I had been observing the Ithaca College Concert Band and interacting with the students for the last few years,” Stark said. “I wanted to understand ensemble playing, since my instrument, the piano, is infrequently involved in a large musical group like a band.”Stark funded the collaboration by providing transportation and meals for the IC students during their rehearsal visit to West Point. He also picked up the meal tab for members of the military band during their stay in Ithaca.“I had the idea at the beginning, I provided funding at the end, and Art Ostrander [dean of the music school] and Mark Fonder [professor of music education] did the work in between,” Stark said.The U. S. Army’s oldest active band and the oldest unit at West Point, the concert band can trace its roots to the Revolutionary War. At that time, fifers and drummers were stationed with companies of minutemen on Constitution Island, on the Hudson River near West Point. Today’s band consists of four components: the concert band, the Hellcats drum and bugle field music unit, the Jazz Knights, and the support staff. The unit fulfills all of the official musical duties of the academy, including military and patriotic ceremonies, public concerts, sporting events, and radio and television broadcasts.The Ithaca College School of Music offers some 300 free concerts each academic year. More information on these performances is available by calling (607) 274-3717 or visiting www.ithaca.edu/concerts.

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