The United States Army Field Band’s Concert Band and choir, the Soldiers’ Chorus, will be coming to BJU on Saturday, Oct. 17, for a concert at 2 p.m. in Rodeheaver Auditorium.
Formed at the end of World War II, the Field Band has a long history of charming its listeners through music. According to www.armyfieldband.com, the band first began under Chief Warrant Officer Chester E. Whiting and was known as the First Combat Infantry Band. Over the past 70 years, the band has transitioned into what is now known as the U.S. Army Field Band.
According to the Field Band’s website, the band tours both locally and internationally and consists of four separate components: the Concert Band, the Soldiers’ Chorus, the Jazz Ambassadors and The Volunteers. Dr. Dan Turner of the BJU music faculty said the concert will include a variety of music including patriotic pieces, regular concert music, marches, some popular tunes and folk songs.
Turner said all members of the U.S. Army Field Band are highly skilled musicians, with most having a minimum of a master’s degree and many having doctorates. In addition to their musical skill, all members are active duty soldiers who possess some type of warfare specialty.
Turner said soldiers are able to audition for the Field Band after finishing basic training and that many of the band’s members have joined the military specifically for the opportunity to be a part of the band. Touring is these soldiers’ full-time job while they are band members. Because of their great skill level, Turner said band members often go on to join symphony orchestras or concert bands all across the country after they retire from the military.
The Army Field Band performed on campus once before more than 10 years ago and was scheduled to return in 2013, but because of Congressional budget cuts that year all military band tours were canceled. Turner said the band contacted BJU about returning this fall, and he is excited to welcome them to campus once again.
“They are fantastic musicians,” Turner said, “We’re very excited to have them.”
Turner said several BJU graduates have played in the Field Band through the years, and currently six graduates are performing in other U.S. military bands.
The concert is free to both students and the public, but it is a ticketed event up until 15 minutes before the concert’s start. Turner recommends getting a ticket if you plan to attend, since the last performance of the Field Band on campus attracted a full house of 3,000 people. Tickets can be found on ArmyFieldBand.com or by calling (864) 241-1634.
Turner said that because the U.S. Army Field Band travels extensively, it takes about 10 years for them to return to a specific area. He recommends that all students take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear the group known as “the Musical Ambassadors of the Army.”