U.S. Fleet Forces Ceremonial Band,
LT C.S. White, Conductor,
Navy Musicians Association Reunion,
June 20, 2013.
It's the white of their whites that first strikes you. That's only natural; they haven't played a tune yet. They're milling about, warming up, tossing tuning notes around. But geez, those whites are white. You think about your time as a Navy musician and wonder: did I look that good? It doesn't seem possible.
After a minute or two, the conductor's commands ring with distant familiarity: "Band, stand by." "Band, attention." The sailors react with a precision that, again, causes you to wonder: was my band this sharp?
|Members of the U.S. Fleet Forces Band mill about smartly.|
The conductor gives the downbeat and the music instantly fills the ballroom. Small in numbers, the band is giant in sound.Their dynamics are so well-planned, so well-executed that a dynamic swell beyond mezzo-forte has the effect of a fortissimo. Yet even when playing softly, the sound is big, full, robust. Much of the music is familiar. In fact you've played many of these same Sousa marches and arrangements of patriotic favorites. Perhaps it's that familiarity that makes you ask: "Did my band sound this good?"
|LT C.S. White conducts"Stars and Stripes Forever."|
But technology records only sight and sound. No microphone can record memory's melodies. No camera preserves the emotional images of concerts in Mediterranean ports, graduations at Great Lakes, of underway replenishment, of rehearsals on the fantail, of late-night dances at the "O" Club and early morning inspections on the drill field. These experiences are preserved in a chamber of the heart that is impervious to microphones and cameras.
Perhaps this could all be said more simply: I don't know if I ever played in a band as good as the Fleet Forces Ceremonial Band, but I know I never played in a band whose rendition of "Anchors Aweigh" caused grown men to cry.