MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
The 48-member Albany Marine Band unit departed Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany Dec. 31 for Tampa, Fla., to perform in the New Year’s Eve 2010 Subaru Outback Bowl parade in nearby Ybor City, Fla., and twice at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium the next day.
The Auburn Tigers defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 38-35 in the game.
“The Ybor City parade was like a miniature Mardi Gras. On game day, we played at Tent City next to the stadium, which is a gathering point for all of the bands to take turns playing for the crowd that’s in the area,” said Sgt. William Kilian, acting enlisted conductor, Albany Marine Band.
Game day performances by a rock band, the Auburn University and Northwestern University bands along with the Albany Marine Band created a festive environment which drew a crowd.
“The bands took turns playing, but when we started playing, people stopped. They knew the Marines were here,” Kilian said. “When we play, people stop and listen.
The Albany Marine band’s performance of Stars and Stripes Forever was the ‘crowd stopper,’ said Kilian.
“We close with the Marine’s Hymn, then move into formation and march out,” he added.
Marching in the parade in Ybor City on New Year’s Eve provided another opportunity for the band to work as Marine Corps ambassadors to the public.
“You could say the parade is a small Mardi Gras where people were very accepting and they get excited when they see and hear a Marine Band,” said Sgt. David Cavazos, platoon sergeant, Albany Marine Band. “During a parade, we stop before the reviewing stand and our brass band, a small ensemble group, comes out and plays for the crowd and they love it.”
Members of high school bands at this and other events enjoy interacting with the Marines in the band and some want to know what is necessary for them to become Marine musicians.
“Nine out of 10 times, the band members come to us and want to watch our warm ups and what we do and they always have a lot of questions,” Cavazos said.
One popular question from the young civilian band members involves attending Marine Corps recruit training.
“They’re always curious about boot camp. We’re very honest and tell them we’re Marines first, but we are also Marines who play music,” Kilian said. “For a lot of them, getting to go to Marine Corps boot camp is a selling point.”
While performing in a civilian setting, Albany Marine Band members found themselves interacting with adults as well as high school and college band members.
“Civilians are always coming up to us and thanking us for our service and what we do,” Cavazos added.
Prior to the Subaru Outback Bowl, The Albany Marine Band was honored at the annual conference of Marine Bands in a Chicago ceremony Dec. 15 after receiving high musical honors for a live musical performance.
This is the first year the 12 Marine Corps bands competed among themselves in the categories of Band of the Year, Live Performance of the Year and Small Ensemble of the Year.
The Albany Marine Band won Live Performance of the Year for their performance of To Walk With Wings.
“All of the bands submit recordings and they’re judged anonymously by Marine band officers and band masters. Then, senior band leaders at Headquarters, Marine Corps, listen to and approve them,” Kilian said.
To compete for Band of the Year honors, each Marine band was required to perform two tunes the National Anthem and Stars and Stripes Forever for judging.
Marine bands aren’t selected for just their musical abilities. Other factors include each band member’s Physical Fitness Test scores, marksmanship scores, martial arts training and swim qualifications.
During 2009, the Albany Marine Band performed at 136 events for approximately four million people and traveled more than 21,000 miles.