West Point Band and New York Philharmonic Collaborate

By SFC Eric Miller
West Point Band

News story photo
Photo credit: Eric Miller
The clarinet sections of the West Point Band and the New York Philharmonic after a performance at Avery Fisher Hall.
As the West Point Band continues its popular "Music Under the Stars" concert series, two particular summer performances has resonated with its members. On July 3rd and 4th, the Concert Band performed with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. The Philharmonic performed the world premiere of Bramwell Tovey's "Urban Runway" and "Four Dance Episodes" from Rodeo. The Academy Band featured its Staff Arranger, Master Sgt. Douglas Richard, performing his composition "Celebration for a New Era." The concert also showcased "The Official West Point March" and Donald Grantham's "Farewell to Gray," a piece commissioned by the West Point Band in honor of the U.S. Military Academy's bicentennial celebration. The concert concluded with both the Philharmonic and the West Point Band performing Sousa's "Liberty Bell" and "Stars and Stripes" as well as the service songs of the Armed Forces.

The joint performance underscored a unique association between the West Point Band and the New York Philharmonic. The Academy Band performed with the Philharmonic in 1964, and Philip Egner, composer of "On Brave Old Army Team" and "The Official West Point March," was actually a cellist in the Philharmonic prior to his appointment as Teacher of Music and Bandmaster of the Academy Band in 1909.

In February of 2008, Academy Band musician Staff Sgt. Denver Dill performed with other principal players of the Philharmonic as a part of its Day of Berio concert. Like Staff Sgt. Dill, many members of the Academy Band have also garnered a relationship with musicians in the Philharmonic during their musical studies. The West Point Band and New York Philharmonic affiliation has also facilitated recent solo performances for Philharmonic musicians to be showcased at West Point. For many summers, the principal trombonist of the Philharmonic, Joseph Alessi, has performed with the Academy Band. Similarly, Philip Smith, the Philharmonic's principal trumpet, was recently featured at West Point as a part of the band's aforementioned "Music Under the Stars" concert series.

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