The musicians of the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own”return to the Coolidge Auditorium on Friday, March 15, 2013 at 2:00 p.m., under the baton of Major Tod A. Addison, director of the U.S. Army Strings. This program features a chamber ensemble element from the larger organization in works by three major American composers, George Gershwin (1898-1937), Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) and Ned Rorem (b. 1923), each of whom were influenced by the legendary composer and pedagogue Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979). These three composers are synonymous with American music, whether in the concert hall or on Broadway, in the case of Bernstein and Gershwin. As part of the Library-wide Songs of America initiative, this special presentation explores how music by these specific composers relates to trends and cultural movements in American history. The Music Division holds collections for the three composers featured in this performance.
The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” has a long and storied history. The unit was founded in 1922 by then Army Chief of Staff General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing (1860-1948), to bring traditions of European military bands to the U.S. Army and American public. “Pershing’s Own” is the premiere musical organization in the U.S. Army, which is the largest single employer of musicians in the world (numbering over 5,000). The Band has represented the United States on countless international missions and has performed in some of America’s most prestigious performance venues, including Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Bowl and the Hatch Shell in Boston.
Major Tod A. Addison, a Washington, DC native, is the Deputy Commander of “Pershing’s Own.” He began his career in the U.S. Army Bands as a clarinet player in 1995 and completed Officer Candidate School in 1998. He has held posts as Commander of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command Band, Deputy Commander of the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, and Executive Officer of the Continental Army Band at Fort Monroe, Virginia. As School Company Commander, Director of Training and Officer Course Instructor at the U.S. Army School of Music in Virginia Beach, Major Addison was key in designing and instructing the first Commissioned Officer courses and redesigning Advanced Individual Training for enlisted Army musicians.
The official mission of the Army Bands program is to “provide music throughout the spectrum of military operations to instill in our soldiers the will to fight and win, foster the support of our citizens, and promote our national interest at home and abroad” (bands.army.mil). In addition to the role for supporting military operations in the field, the bands provide outreach to the public and represent here at home those serving in combat zones. Army Bands have undergone a significant transformation in recent years. While the traditional concert band ensemble remains the primary operational unit, Army Bands have placed a greater emphasis on the smaller ensembles that comprise the larger band when combined. These smaller ensembles, ranging from rock bands to brass quintets, allow the units to provide support for more missions simultaneously. This format is also more conducive to providing mission support in modern combat zones, in that it is much easier to deploy a four-soldier jazz combo than a sixty-piece concert band into a location such as Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
As a former Army bandsman myself, I am greatly privileged to welcome these wonderful soldier-musicians to the Library’s historic Coolidge Auditorium. Additionally, the U.S. Army Blues will be performing on Saturday, May 25 at 8:00 p.m., as part of our John Adams Residency. More information about that concert is available here.
The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Chamber Players
Friday, March 15, 2013
2:00 p.m. – Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress
Works by George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein and Ned Rorem