The U.S. Coast Guard Band is touring the Great Lakes this summer. On Wednesday, the ensemble co-founded by legendary march king John Phillip Sousa is giving a free concert at Okemos High School.
Editor’s Note: This is a free event, but tickets are required. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at Okemos High School. Register for tickets here.
LCDR Adam Williamson:
If (people) have never heard a military band before, I think they certainly have some preconceived notions about what a military band is. We certainly do a lot of patriotic fare, we do a lot of marches…but I think what people don’t expect is the high quality artistic music that we play on these concerts as well.
So, I guess people are surprised, then, when they find out you’re playing (Giacomo) Puccini and Aaron Copland.
You just kicked off your summer tour of communities in the Great Lakes region. You’ve played Buffalo and Cleveland already. What’s it like when you get out there in front of the audience?
That initial sound will often create this electric atmosphere with the audience. Talking to the audience after the concert, they’re just so moved and appreciative of what the band does and what the service does. I basically classify it as an exclusively positive experience for everyone involved.
One of the composers the band performs is Kenneth Fuchs. He’s a music professor at the University of Connecticut. Why did you choose his work?
He writes music for bands like nobody else writes music for bands. That was one of the things I thought was really captivating about (him). It’s essentially orchestral writing, but for a band. He has these wonderful long lines paired with this busy undercurrent.
You’ll be playing in Grand Haven, Michigan, which is known as “Coast Guard City U.S.A.” Have you ever played a gig there? What’s it like to play there?
Oh, man…is that such a big, special event. Yes, I’ve played at Grand Haven before. The Coast Guard Band goes there every few years for the Coast Guard Festival. I used that word ‘electricity’ before to describe an audience. This is about as electric as it gets. Grand Haven is a relatively smaller town and it’s incredible how many people they can pack into that small town to celebrate the Coast Guard. Everything is Coast Guard-oriented, and there’s so much appreciation and love for the Coast Guard everywhere you go in Grand Haven. It’s so awesome.