The U.S. Army Field Band eNewsletter, October 2016
Fall Tours in the Northeast
The U.S. Army Field Band’s 2016 Fall Tour is underway, and the Concert Band, Soldiers’ Chorus, and Jazz Ambassadors are telling the Army story through music across the Northeastern United States, from Pennsylvania to Maine and everywhere in-between. Some exciting highlights include the Concert Band returning to The Palace in Stamford, Connecticut, and the Soldiers’ Chorus joining the New York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.
The Field Band Collaborates with Dr. Robert Ambrose
The Concert Band and Soldiers’ Chorus are currently collaborating with one of the leading voices in the concert band field, Dr. Robert Ambrose, Director of Bands at Georgia State University. Dr. Ambrose is joining the band and chorus on the road for a series of concerts throughout the state of New York.
“This collaboration was born out of a long friendship I’ve had with [Lieutenant Colonel] Paul Bamonte,” said Ambrose. “We met years ago when he was Commander of the Army Ground Forces Band at Fort McPherson, Georgia. Last year, when the Army Field Band came through the Atlanta area, [Major] Scott McKenzie reached out to me to guest conduct “An American Salute.” At some point [Lieutenant Colonel Bamonte] and I came up with the idea that he would do a one-week residency at Georgia State as guest conductor and lecturer, and I would conduct the Army Field Band in some capacity. A few weeks later, he invited me to come on tour with the group.”
Dr. Ambrose brings a lifetime of experience as a musician, conductor, and arranger. “It was important to me to recommend pieces to which I had a deep connection,” he said. “I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I wanted to conduct music to which I could bring an interesting and sincere point of view.”
One of the pieces Dr. Ambrose conducts on the program is his own arrangement of “Gypsy Dance,” from The Pearl of Iberia. “The Pearl of Iberia is an opera written by Joseph Hellmesberger. He was an Austrian composer, violinist, and conductor and actually served as Principal Conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic for a short time. A few years ago, I came across a YouTube clip of the Vienna Philharmonic playing a gypsy dance from this opera and immediately thought it would make a great piece for band. While I did the actual transcription, several other people played important roles in the creation of it. . . From start to finish, the entire process took well over a year, and it’s been one of my most performed arrangements.”
Dr. Ambrose’s knowledge of and love for the repertoire has already been evident on the podium, and the Concert Band and Soldiers’ Chorus continue to enjoy making music with him. About the band and chorus, Ambrose added: “The Army Field Band is known in musical circles to be comprised of extremely talented musicians. After getting to know many of them during our rehearsals, I’m struck by how consistently excellent they are as musicians and how, for lack of a better word, durable they are as people. They are on the road 100 days a year and play one great show after another. The lifestyle must be absolutely grueling, but they bring musical excellence and enthusiasm night after night. It’s truly inspiring.”