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MP3 File: U.S. Air Force Band - The British Eighth (March)

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I recently attended a tour concert by The United States Air Force Band. It was a great experience for me and the rest of the audience.

I was reminded once again what a professional operation this is! As you walk into the venue you pass a table with various souvenirs as well as a few A.F. folks you can talk to. Lots of pamphlets for those who have questions about the mission of the USAF or are interested in a career.

Then as you go in the hall and receive your program, it's hard not to be impressed with the packaging. The actual program was a list of repertoire from which the concert will be formed, and that was an insert. But the container was a nice multi-fold full-color folder with photos, Band personnel list, mission of the band and AF, etc. Then as you keep unfolding it you find inside a CD made up of music from a previous tour. What a great gift!

The concert itself was very impressive. Perhaps the most amazing thing to me (also mentioned by a U. of MN tuba student who was there and related his impressions to me a couple days later) was the musical balance of the ensemble. It was about midway through the first half of the program before I realized that I had not once had my attention drawn to any individual player or section unless there was a musical reason for it. The balance was perfect (and that's not a term I throw around lightly). In some bands and orchestras there seems to be a little "I can play louder than you" contest, but I heard no hint of it here. One has to assume that the musicians are trying very hard and consistently to listen to each other and create an ensemble sound (what a concept!).

The rest of my impressions were mostly what you would expect. Great playing by all. Trumpet long-tone solos in Wagner's Rienzi Overture were about as good as I have ever heard - rock steady with a clear tone and great control. We heard fine playing and musicianship from the bassoon soloist.

The singers who travel with the band were excellent. Normally I just drift through that part of a program, preferring to hear the band alone, but these performers were so good that one could not help but be drawn into the music. They did some of the typical patriotic fare, but the second half of the program opened with three spirituals with just the vocalists - no accompaniment. The performance was lively and had a fine feel, and all the soloists were absolutely professional.

From the enclosed CD I have posted the British Eighth march by Zo Elliott. It has that nice "slow march" feel that I think of when I recall some of the fine British bands I have heard. Enjoy!

British Eighth March, U.S. Air Force Band

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