The Herald Trumpets are the official fanfare ensemble for the President of the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., they are part of “Pershing’s Own,” the United States Army Band that performs at historic international and national events, including Presidential inaugurations, to welcome visiting dignitaries such as the Queen of England and Pope, and at Olympic ceremonies. They regularly perform for the Kennedy Center Honors and the annual holiday celebrations “A Capitol Fourth,” “Christmas in Washington” and “The National Memorial Day Concert.”
On Sunday, May 3, 2009, the Lodi Community Band welcomed The Herald Trumpets, along with the 59th Army Band, the “Governor’s Own,” to the stage of the Charlene Powers Lange Performing Arts Theater at Hutchins Street Square here in Lodi for “A Patriotic Celebration.”
The concerts began with the splendor and precision for which The Herald Trumpets are renowned:
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It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Lodi audiences to experience the Herald Trumpets in person, as well as for the members of the Lodi Community Band and 59th Army Band to perform with “a national treasure.” Lodi Community Band Director Robert E. Gross noted, “They simply do not perform on the West Coast, with rare exceptions.” Indeed, prior to last Sunday’s concerts, the Herald Trumpets had not performed in California since they appeared with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra on July 4, 2002.
“We definitely make a bigger impact away from D.C.,” Master Sergeant Todd Baldwin told the Stockton Record. “People haven’t heard a group with so unique a sound. It’s so powerful. It evokes a more excited, enthusiastic response.” That was certainly the case with Lodi audiences.
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Of course, before you can perform, you must rehearse. So on Saturday afternoon, all members of the ensemble gathered together to get acquainted and practice.
First, we were introduced to Captain David Paroby, Director of the Herald Trumpets. Originally from Warminster, Pennsylvania, he holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and a Master of Arts degree in Music Education from Columbia University. He spent four years as a percussionist with the United States Marine Corps before securing a position with the U. S. Military Academy Band in West Point, New York, where he served as a featured percussion soloist and clinician. He entered the U.S. Army Band Officer program in 2004 and was commissioned in December 2004 as an Officer Candidate School Distinguished Military Graduate. His military decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.
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During the Saturday afternoon rehearsal, we also met WO1 Ron Wolcott who directs the 59th Army Band. He conducted the combined Lodi Community and 59th Army bands during the performances. He has served for 17 years with the 59th Army Band as tenor trombonist, bass trombonist, assistant drum major, assistant conductor, and section leader, but has been the commander since April 2007. He holds a Master’s Degree in composition and arranging from California State University, Chico and freelances with the Paradise Symphony and the Paradise Brass Quintet.
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Before we knew it, Sunday afternoon arrived and it was time to relax and savor the event for which we had so diligently prepared with eager anticipation. For me, one of the highlights was performing “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” with the entire ensemble under the direction of Captain Paroby. The piece was written by John Williams for The Herald Trumpets and debuted at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. I am seated immediately to the conductor’s right as you view the video, happily playing my flute under the direction of a master musician, feeling privileged to be in the company of so many other fine musicians, doing what I love most.
In addition to their other duties, The Herald Trumpets play during burial ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. “It’s even hard to estimate [the number of services I have played during my tenure],” Baldwin said of his group’s solemn duty at Arlington, the national military cemetery. “At least 10 (burials) a week for 25 years. That’s probably kind of a low average.
“Emotionally, it can be difficult, although everyone deals with it in their own way. You learn to distance yourself a little bit. We’re doing it for fallen heroes, though during the ceremony we’re quite a distance form the families. So we don’t have intimacy. We play standard chapel hymns and marches down to the grave site.”
Shortly after September 11, 2001, they performed “Heroic Fanfare,” composed especially for the occasion, in Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. They shared that inspiring number with Lodi audiences, as well.
I also enjoyed performing the extremely challenging “American Salute.” You’ll recognize the tune!
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No patriotic celebration would be complete with a stirring and crowd-pleasing rendition of “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” If this doesn’t make you want to stand up and salute, nothing will!
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