Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
Every Friday night for the rest of the year I’m doing Christmas music on our Friday night mega-music blog. And by Christmas music I don’t mean a lot of the stuff you hear on FM Radio. You know. Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift every 15 minutes. This is solid material you can find at a record shop, library, or the Internet.
This week, a theme I’ve never done in all these years. While I’ve featured the various Armed Forces bands I’ve never highlighted them at Christmas. Get ready to enjoy some spectacular performances.
We begin with terrific fanfare. The U.S. Army Band has nine different ensembles.
The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” has been the premier musical organization of the U.S. Army since 1922 when Army Chief of Staff General of the Armies John J. “Black Jack” Pershing directed that the band be organized, built on the tradition of the European military bands he had heard during the First World War. “Pershing’s Own” provides music support for the leadership of the United States, to include all branches of government, and to a wide spectrum of national and international events in support of Soldiers and their Families, public diplomacy, memorial affairs, community and international relations, and recruiting initiatives. Its mission is to help connect the Army with the American people. Its Soldiers represent all of the heroic men and women who stand around the world in defense of our freedom. Through their musical education, continual training, and masterful performance these outstanding Soldiers truly embody the excellence that is found across America’s Army.
Officially founded in 1959, The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets were formed to add splendor to official military ceremonies. Patterned after traditional British fanfare trumpet ensembles, the group now serves as the official fanfare ensemble to the President of the United States, and can often be seen lining the South Portico of the White House, as the President welcomes foreign ambassadors, royalty, and visiting heads of state. A performing element of The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” the ensemble has performed for countless events of national and international significance.
The brightly colored banners or tabards that hang from the bell of each instrument serve to enhance the visual effect of the ensemble. The concept of the tabard is drawn from the traditions of similar British trumpet ensembles. Since its founding The Army Herald Trumpets has used three different tabard designs. The original tabard depicted the U.S. Army Eagle emblem on a dark blue background with yellow fringe border. The succeeding tabard displayed elements of the shield in The U.S. Army Band’s coat of arms: Crossed mace and sword and Rhineland Campaign Shield on a red and white striped background with yellow fringe border. The third and current tabard displays the full coat of arms of The U.S. Army Band. This tabard was produced in two sets; one set with a blue background and the other with a white background; both with yellow fringe border.
That video was from the 2019 American Holiday Festival from DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. The annual concert had to be virtual this year.
The United States Coast Guard Band is the premier band representing the United States Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. The 55-member ensemble has performed at some of the most prestigious venues in the nation, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. The Band also has a rich history of performing internationally: it is especially honored to have been the first American military band to perform in the former Soviet Union, with concerts in Leningrad and the surrounding area in 1989.
Based at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, the Coast Guard Band frequently appears in Washington, DC, at presidential and cabinet level functions on formal and informal occasions.
The United States Coast Guard Band was organized in March 1925 with the assistance of Lt. Charles Benter, leader of the United States Navy Band; Dr. Walter Damrosch, conductor of the New York Philharmonic; and “American March King” John Philip Sousa, former director of the United States Marine Band.
Next up, The United States Navy Band is the premier musical organization of the Navy. It’s been said the band is “capable of playing any style of music in any setting.”
Traditionally, the Navy Band presents three concerts at the historic DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., to an audience of more than 10,000 guests. With the current COVID-19 restrictions, they adapted their usual merrymaking to protect the safety and health of performers and the public. The music and pageantry of the United States Navy Band will be available online throughout the month of December.
That, of course, is a take on the version done by the legendary doo-wop group the Drifters that was released in 1954.
When Elvis included a similar version on his first Christmas album he was roundly criticized, even called racist decades later for ‘stealing’ the song. A writer in the Ottawa Citizen called the album “a masterpiece of seasonal miscasting,” and that it was “ludicrous and pathetic.” A Canadian radio station official referred to the album as “degrading.”
According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Elvis’ Christmas Album has sold 20 million copies worldwide, 17 million in America. His recording of White Christmas along with the Drifters are both played frequently on the radio during the holidays.
The United States Air Force Band is the Air Force’s premier musical organization. Each member is proud to represent all Airmen, whose selfless service and sacrifices ensure the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America. Since its formation in 1941, this world-class organization has inspired billions of listeners through its exhilarating music, engaging concerts and masterful recordings and continues to positively impact the global community.
The National Air and Space Museum holds in trust over 60,000 artifacts and more than 20,000 cubic feet of archival materials. Historic aircraft and space artifacts, such as the 1903 Wright Flyer and the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, highlight the National Collection. Thousands of additional artifacts—including engines, rockets, uniforms, spacesuits, balloons, artwork, documents, manuscripts, and photographs—document the richness of the history of flight. Altogether, the collection includes more than 30,000 aviation and 9,000 space objects.
As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, and Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, along with all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo, are temporarily closed.
We can’t forget the Marines. “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band’s mission is to perform for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Founded in 1798 by an Act of Congress, the Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. Today, “The President’s Own” is celebrated for its role at the White House and its dynamic public performances, which total more than 500 annually.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
We end the way we stared with the US Army Band, recorded at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
Dona nobis pacem.
Grant us peace.