"The Beacon" Summer 2019 Edition
Our periodic mailing, available here in PDF format:
Aloha! I'm MU1 Bryce Nakaoka and I play horn in the Band as well as the Woodwind Quintet. I was born and raised in Pearl City, Hawaii and joined the Coast Guard Band in 2010 after graduating with a BM in Education from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I currently reside in Quaker Hill with my wife, our son, and Tomi the Corgi!
1. What is something you miss about your home state?
Family and friends. Those two typically lead to the other thing I miss most about Hawaii: food!
2. What would you say is the best thing about being in the Coast Guard Band?
Travel! I've had some wonderful opportunities over the past 10 years to travel all over the country and Taiwan. I love finding interesting places to eat but if I see a decently rated Korean BBQ joint close to our hotel, you know where I'll be for dinner. I'm an early riser as well so I'm always searching for great breakfast joints.
3. What is the best meal you have ever eaten?
Not the best meal I've every eaten, but I always look forward to Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve dinners. My wife and I are both from Hawaii so most of our family is also there. We typically hop between 2 parties each night and get our fill of delicious food. There were years while we were still in college that I would go to 3 or 4 parties and had to be rolled around by the end of the night. Sadly, my body can't handle eating all that food anymore.
4. If you had to choose one recording or artist to tell someone to listen to of a professional on your instrument that emulates your idea of the perfect sound, what would you choose?
My concept of the ideal sound changes depending on the genre, composer, era, and ensemble so I don't really have a single recording or artist that would best answer this question. That said, I enjoy American Horn Quartet recordings for the very different voices that all four members bring to the group.
5. What is your greatest accomplishment at this point in your life?
Funny Answer: I won the Coast Guard Band Sequestration Starcraft II Tournament.
Serious Answer: Our son just turned 1 so keeping him healthy, happy, and COVID-free is the real answer.
6. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher or other professional in our field?
I think the best advice I've been given by many teachers and musicians has been to record yourself. I'm guilty of not doing it enough, but other than having other people listen to you all the time it really is the best way to get instant feedback and really makes for effective deliberate practice.
7. What is something that seemingly everyone likes except you?
Alcohol. Mostly because my body violently rejects it and partially because I'm not convinced that most alcohol is actually tasty.
8. What is a movie or tv show from your childhood that you love/d?
So many! From the early 90's I really enjoyed Dragon Ball Z, Animaniacs, X-Men, Spider Man, Reboot, Tranformers Beast Wars, and Batman The Animated Series which is the best version of the caped crusader. Mark Hamill will always be the best Joker. The original lineup of Cartoon Network's [adult swim] with shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Sealab 2021, and Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law were amazing. The original lineup also included Cowboy Bebop which is still my favorite anime.
9. What is something you have learned about the Coast Guard’s missions that you
didn’t know before enlisting?
Everything. I only had vague knowledge that we had a Coast Guard when I auditioned. Since, I've learned what a versatile and multifaceted organization the Coast Guard has become over its history.
10. Describe your ultimate dream house.
-Cleans and maintains itself
-Mainland (Continental United States for the mainlanders reading this) sized house and lot
-At a reasonable price
-Close to work
-In a good school district
-Relatively close to our families
-Cleans and maintains itself
Howdy! MUCS Kelly Watkins joined the US Coast Guard Band in February 2003 as the first (and still only) female trumpet player in the history of the band. Born and raised in Texas as the youngest of five children, she attended college in Louisiana and Illinois before making her home in Connecticut.
Most definitely the food! A native Texan, it’s pretty challenging to find quality BBQ and Mexican food up here in the Northeast...but that doesn’t stop me from trying!
Being afforded the opportunity to travel, see a broad swath of this beautiful country, and meet some pretty amazing people along the way.
Ooo, tough one! I consider myself a “foodie” and like just about any type of cuisine. But if I have to choose just one meal it would be from Honey Paw in Portland, ME. I’ve eaten there a few times and everything I’ve had has been divine!
Timofei Dokschitzer performing the Aleksandra Pakhmutova “Trumpet Concerto”. One of my absolute favorites!!
To have accepted myself for who I truly am and to live my life with authenticity and compassion for others.
To push yourself beyond what feels comfortable...take risks. The real music happens in the risks.
Any sort of Sci-fi or fantasy television. I’m too much of a realist!
8. What is an movie or tv show from your childhood that you love/d?
From kindergarten through middle school my father either managed a movie theater and or owned movie stores so I had access to a lot of movies as a child. I love a lot of 80’s movies including “Sixteen Candles”, “The Breakfast Club”, and “Goonies”.
I really didn’t know anything about the Coast Guard’s mission of Ice Operations. Growing up in the South I didn’t have much exposure to ice or freezing temperatures.
1940-1950’s era home with lots of character. Large covered front porch. Located in a beautiful wooded area near coastal Maine.
Hello, I’m percussionist and Musician First-Class David West. I’m originally from Buffalo, NY, so naturally, I’m a die-hard Bills and Sabres fan. I’ve been a proud member of the Coast Guard Band since October, 2007 and live in Salem with my wife and two children.
1. What is a talent or interest you have that is unique, or that not many people know about?
I’ve become a relatively competent DIYer; whether it’s landscaping, electrical, plumbing, framing, woodworking, auto-mechanics, etc. I recently built a little two-story barn. I like to say that I play for work and work for fun.
2. If you had it to do over again, and could pick a different instrument to play, what would you choose and why?
I’m pretty envious of good singers, so I wish I would’ve worked on that from a young age. Although if I chose singing over drumming, I most certainly would not be a professional musician today!
3. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’m more interested in the “how” would I go. I’d like to sail to Key West, or ride a motorcycle to Alaska, things like that.
4. Where do you see yourself after leaving or retiring from the military?
Sailing to Key West or riding a bike to Alaska, with my wife of course while my kids are supporting us financially. Yup, I’ve got it all figured out.
5. What is the latest tv show you watched or book you have read, and what made you choose it?
I watched a Bob Dylan documentary, and it was just a random Netflix click.
6. What is your favorite piece of music you have ever performed?
Probably my first time being part of a Gustav Mahler symphony. I played timpani on his Symphony no. 1 and that had my adrenal-gland working hard.
7. Do you have any strange fears or phobias?
God hates a coward, but I’m not a fan of snakes.
8. Is there a particular "bucket list" item you'd like to tell us about?
I’m just looking forward to all the things/events being a dad brings.
9. What is your favorite quality about your instrument?
That it’s actually many instruments, present in just about every music genre, and deeply rooted throughout all human history.
10. What is your favorite thing about living in Southeast CT?
Flying my Bills flag in Patriots territory.
Chief Musician Leah Abbott grew up in South Florida and attended college in Miami and Boca Raton, FL; Baltimore, MD; and Cambridge, MA. She was a founding member of the acclaimed woodwind quintet Vento Chiaro before joining the Band in January 2003.
Nerd alert: I collect pens. I have a small collection of roller ball and fountain pens, some of which are family heirlooms. I write daily and it is a joy to feel the glide of a good pen over the page.
I love the clarinet and am very grateful that I get to play it daily as my vocation. But, if I could also have started the piano early in life, that would have made me a very happy young person. I have recently studied piano formally, but it's so difficult to learn something new as an adult!
Paris, France, is my absolute favorite city.
I hope to play the clarinet always. I also enjoy sharing my love for the instrument with the next generation of students. So, I hope to expand my clarinet studio to include teaching from home upon retirement.
I belong to a small book club in my neighborhood. I am leading the discussion this month on "Ask Again, Yes," by Mary Beth Keane. It's a wonderful, intimate portrait of how a tragedy affects two families living in and around New York City. Told serially, from the point of view of each of the main characters, Keane really captures the tone and mindset of people of all ages.
Brahms Clarinet Quintet. Sublime.
No. Just the usual ones.
I don't like adventure for the sake of doing something daring or risky. So, I don't have a bucket list per se, but I would *really* like to travel more.
The vocal quality of the clarinet and the absolute legato it can achieve is something I'm always striving to perfect. Maybe one of these days. . .
New London's access to Long Island Sound with its salty breezes is my favorite thing about southeastern Connecticut.
Today’s #tuesdaytalk is with Coast Guard Band bassoonist/contraforte...ist (?) MU1 Tyler Wilkins. Although he was hired to be in our bassoon section four and a half years ago, he plays over ten instruments in total, so don’t be surprised if you see him performing on something that isn’t in the bassoon family. Originally from Kentucky, he now lives in Norwich, CT with his wife of seven years, Laura, and their three children, Azariah, Justice, and Rosalyn.
1. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
I value my ability to communicate clearly using words, especially in writing.
2. What do you appreciate most in a friend?
The ability to have a deep, theoretical conversation without getting confused or offended.
3. What is your favorite word?
In sound: “Bootycane” (I should explain. This isn’t a real word, but it’s a word my dad made up when my sister and I were kids. He would say it whenever we were taking a picture and needed to smile. It has a 100% success rate.) In meaning: probably “redemption” or “propitiation”
4. What is your least favorite word?
In sound: “transmogrify.” Sometimes I wake up with this word repeating in my head and I get irritated. In advertising: ”premium“
5. What noise/sound do you love?
Once I found these gigantic, bass wind chimes and they sounded amazing. I also love the sound of the key of F# major. It’s my favorite key. To me it sounds cold, bright, delicate, and happy - like ice or snow.
6. What noise/sound do you hate?
I don’t like the sound of humans chewing very much. I don’t want to hear other people chewing, but I also don’t want them to hear me chewing.
7. If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?
When I was younger, I started out wanting to be a video game designer, which broadened out into computer programming. I have also always said that if I couldn’t make it in music, I’d want to learn to use heavy construction equipment and build buildings.
8. Who is your favorite composer/author/artist?
For music composition and art, my favorite time period is the impressionist period, so for composer I’ll say Claude Debussy, and for visual art I’ll say Claude Monet (I guess anybody named Claude will do). I do also really like Salvador Dali’s work. Author is harder. Probably Charles Spurgeon. I‘ve never read anything by him that wasn’t incredibly well-stated.
9. What is your favorite song?
I’ve always disliked this question because it’s too hard. A long time ago, I decided to say that my favorite band is Earth, Wind, and Fire, and that my favorite song by them was “September.” It may not actually be my true favorite, but that’s ok. I never mind hearing it, so maybe it qualifies.
10. When all is said and done, what do you want people to say about you?
That I reminded them of Jesus, and that I was primarily concerned with what he wanted.
Due to recent events, security has been heightened at all government installations, including the United States Coast Guard Academy. Please consider allowing a little more time to pass through Academy entrances due to security precautions. As a reminder, please be sure all adults have a valid ID card (driver's license, etc). Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Last September, MU1 Ryan Foley won a highly competitive audition against a field of more than forty flutists from across the country to earn the position of co-principal flute in the Coast Guard Band. Before enlisting in the Coast Guard in March of 2019, MU1 Foley received degrees in flute performance from Brigham Young University and The University of Texas at Austin. Coast Guard Band Newsletter The Beacon sat down with Ryan to catch up with him during his first few months on the job:
BEACON: Where are you from originally and what were you doing just prior to joining the Coast Guard Band?
MU1 Foley: I'm originally from Excelsior Springs, MO, a suburb of Kansas City. Prior to joining the band I had just started an Advanced Musical Studies Certificate at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.
BEACON: What has been your initial impression of life in the Coast Guard Band?
RF: It has been such an exciting and amazing opportunity to be a part of the US Coast Guard Band. It's incredibly rewarding to come to work and make music with world-class musicians on a daily basis.
BEACON: What was your Coast Guard Band audition experience like?
RF: The Coast Guard Band audition was the most organized and comfortable audition that I have taken. Everything was well planned and efficient. It was one of the first auditions I've taken where I actually enjoyed the audition! Everyone's friendly and welcoming demeanor helped me to grow in confidence throughout the three rounds.
BEACON: What do you like to do when you’re not playing the flute?
RF: When I'm not playing the flute I love all things food related! I spend a lot of time baking, cooking, watching cooking shows, and trying out restaurants with my wife. I also love to watch and play soccer and spend time outdoors with our dog Mushu.
Chief Musician Megan Sesma, harp, was honored with a Commandant’s Letter of Commendation in September 2019 for her volunteerism as secretary of the Leadership Development Advisory Council at the Coast Guard Academy, for her role as chief of the Band’s education department, and for her position as harpist with the Band. Additionally, she was a featured performer at the Festival International de Musique Saint-Georges in Guadeloupe.
Musician First Class Joel Baroody earned a Commandant’s Letter of Commendation for his outstanding work as soloist, for providing musical leadership as the Band’s principal trumpet, and for authoring concert program notes for each of the Band’s musical performances in Leamy Hall and beyond that totaled over 100 pages.
Musician First Class Briana Tarby's contributions to the Coast Guard Band were highlighted in a Commandant’s Letter of Commendation presented in September 2019. She created an oboe pedagogy workshop that was selected from among hundreds of applications for presentation at Chicago’s notable Midwest Clinic. Furthermore, she performed as oboe soloist in Jennifer Higdon’s Oboe Concerto and volunteered for numerous events benefitting women across the Coast Guard Academy and further afield.
Chief Musician Greg Case, associate principal saxophone, and Robert Langslet, the Band’s former pianist, were the 2018 recipients of the Sam Hasty Award for Service in the Coast Guard Band. The recipients demonstrated outstanding musical contributions in the service of the US Coast Guard Band and promoted growth in the organization by fostering enjoyment, pride, purpose, community, and achievement. Members of the Band voted to honor Greg and Robert with this distinctive achievement.
Advancements and Promotions
On September 1st, Barrett Seals, oboe and English horn, was advanced to Senior Chief Musician and Laura Pirruccello, piccolo, was advanced to Chief Musician.
On October 1st, the Band’s director Adam Williamson was promoted to Commander.