As the original ensemble of the United States Navy Band, the concert band has been performing public concerts and participating in high-profile events for more than 85 years. Photo courtesy of United States Navy Band.
The United States Navy Band, the Navy’s premier musical organization in Washington, D.C., will perform at 7 p.m., Feb. 6 at the Toy F. Reid Eastman Employee Center in Kingsport.
The concert is open to the public, and tickets are free. Tickets may be picked up at the Toy F. Reid Center or at the Dobyns-Bennett Instrumental Music Building (adjacent to the D-B tennis courts) from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Feb. 3-5.
Led by Capt. Brian O. Walden, the organization includes 172 enlisted musicians and four officers. The band performs at official military, government and other special events. Led by the band’s drum major, Master Chief Musician Joe D. Brown Jr., the group’s varied duties include arrival ceremonies at the White House and Pentagon as well as changes of command, military retirement ceremonies and funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremonial band also supports the Navy’s mission by providing music for community events around the National Capital region. The band’s repertoire includes marches, symphonic selections, patriotic works, popular favorites and the “Washington Post March” by John Phillip Sousa.
Sousa served as a Navy bandmaster from 1917 to 1919. Known most often for his work as head of the United States Marine Band in the late 19th century and his own band in the early 20th century, Sousa was brought back into Naval service during World War I at the record age of 62. Sousa reorganized the existing bands into smaller groups that could still carry out duties on ships and Naval stations. Meanwhile, he formed a large band of 350 musicians that he used to tour in major cites. The tours were massively successful and raised more than $21 million for the war effort.
The band has participated in many significant national events, including 21 presidential inaugurals, our nation’s bicentennial celebration in New York Harbor, the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty, and the U.S. Constitution bicentennial commemoration. The Navy Band performed at the 1997 Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial dedication ceremony, the 1996 Korean War Veterans Memorial celebration and also the World War II Memorial dedication ceremony. Additional prominent appearances include the 1991 Desert Storm “National Victory Celebration” parades in Washington, D.C. and New York City and, in 2000, the 111th Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
A native of Trenton, S.C., Capt. Walden holds a bachelor’s degree in music with a double major in religious studies from Saint Leo (Fla.) University and a master’s degree in wind ensemble conducting from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Mass. Walden enlisted in the Navy in 1981 and served as a trumpet instrumentalist in Charleston, New Orleans, Guam, the Marianas Islands and Norfolk. Before assuming his current position, he was the leader of the U.S. Naval Academy Band. He has performed with the Virginia Wind Symphony, the Virginia Beach Symphony Orchestra and La Orquesta Salsa y Mas, a Latin salsa ensemble.
Members of several local high school bands will join the Navy Band to perform “Washington Post March.”