"The Beacon" Spring 2019 Edition
Our periodic mailing, available here in PDF format:
Lieutenant Commander Adam Williamson and the Coast Guard Band present "A Little Winter Music" on February 17th at 2pm in Leamy Concert Hall. The program includes a suite from Leonard Bernstein's masterful score to On The Waterfront, selections from Bruce Broughton's robust Silverado, and of course some stellar tracks from John Williams' catalog.
The concert is free and open to the public, no tickets required.
by MUC Bonnie Denton
Each concert season, The Coast Guard Band has a tradition of inviting a guest conductor to spend a one-week residence with the ensemble. During the week, the conductor will rehearse the ensemble, get to know band members and the directors, and ultimately conduct a Sunday concert at Leamy Concert Hall. This annual event has cultivated close relationships with many of the world’s most esteemed band and orchestra conductors. The Captain Lewis J. Buckley Guest Artist Concert Series, named for the Band’s Director from 1979-2004, has become a highly anticipated event for the musicians and audience members alike.
The conductor selected for the 2018-2019 Concert Season was Dr. James Patrick Miller, conductor of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Dr. Miller established a close relationship with the Coast Guard Band during his tenure as Director of the University of Massachusetts Wind Ensemble from 2009-2014. When he was contacted by Coast Guard Band Director Lieutenant Commander Adam Williamson, Dr. Miller knew immediately which major work he wanted to program. He chose David Maslanka’s Symphony No. 4. Composed in 1994, it is considered to be one of the truly great compositions in the wind band repertoire. At twenty-eight minutes long, it stretches the limitations of the most skilled professional players both technically and expressively.
Dr. Miller led the Coast Guard Band in three rehearsals to prepare for the concert. The energy onstage was evident from the onset, as the Band dove into a reading of Dmitri Kabalevsky’s fiery Overture to Colas Breugnon. Chief Musician Kelly Hurrell, the Coast Guard Band’s Principal Clarinetist and Concertmaster, noticed an instant chemistry between the ensemble and conductor. “The Band and Dr. Miller meshed immediately, his technical clarity combined with his energy and passion for the music were a perfect match with the Band,” said Hurrell. During the course of the rehearsals, Dr. Miller and the Coast Guard Band worked intensely, developing a strong bond and mutual respect while interpreting and refining the music for the performance. Dr. Miller reflected that the musicians of the Coast Guard Band are “brilliant, kind, and quirky artists who are dedicated to serve and driven toward excellence in all avenues of art and life. The Band exemplifies excellence both in who they are and how they perform.”
From the opening notes of the Kabalevsky Overture through a soaring and beautiful performance of three Aaron Copland songs by Coast Guard Band soprano Musician First Class Megan Weikleenget and into the final powerful chords of the Maslanka, the Sunday afternoon concert was a true journey for those in the audience and onstage. Local school band director Vanessa Wudyka was in the audience for the performance and remarked that “the concert was well-paced and powerful, especially during J.S. Bach’s Come Sweet Death and Symphony No. 4. The emotion of Dr. Miller and the USCG Band resonated throughout the audience.”
When asked what was most memorable about his four days with the Coast Guard Band, Dr. Miller remarked “there are so many memories that will live with me from this past week. Certainly what has imprinted on me for life is our performance of Maslanka 4. The Band played with such depth of soul, commitment, color, and contrast. Although I could never sum it up in words, I know that our time living in the Maslanka will stay with me forever.”
The members of the Coast Guard Band agree with Dr. Miller’s sentiments.
Musician First Class Laura Pirruccello, piccolo, was presented with the 2018 Sam Hasty Award at the Coast Guard Band’s Labor Day concert at Fort Trumbull, CT. This is the only award that is voted on by members of the Coast Guard Band. It is given annually to a Band member who has demonstrated outstanding musical contributions in the service of the Coast Guard Band and promoted growth in the organization by fostering enjoyment, pride, purpose, community, and achievement.