The Marine Corps Band New Orleans is visiting Fort Walton Beach High School this Friday, May 9. The band will be performing a free concert at the school at 7 p.m. Also, during the visit, the musicians will share their expertise with the members of the school's band program.
There are only ten Marine Corps bands world-wide, including Japan, Hawaii, and eight across the continental U.S. One of them is located in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Each year the musicians of the band travel throughout the United States performing in hundreds of ceremonies, parades and public concerts. They're currently on a spring swing across the gulf coast.
"We started our tour in northern Mississippi and worked our way down. The tour will culminate in Fort Walton Beach High School, where I graduated in 1996," says Master Sergeant William Call, Bandmaster.
Call, a native of Destin, says it will also be a homecoming of sorts for Corporal Meghan Danner, a bassoon player, who graduated from the University of West Florida.
Before their big evening event, Call and his fellow Marine Corps musicians will spend their day conducting a number of special classes for students in the band program at Fort Walton Beach High School.
In the morning, they'll work with groups broken down into smaller chamber ensembles, specifically with the brass quintet and woodwind quintet. Also, there will be a special master class for percussionists.
Master Sgt. Call says he sees the clinics as an important part of their mission, attributing much of his success to what he learned as a member of the high school band.
"It really set the foundation for me. Back then, as it is now, it was an amazing program, which really established a lot of core fundamentals that made me who I am today; things like discipline, commitment. Those were really important in that program and believe it or not, those are things it takes to be a really good Marine."
Additionally, the school visits are great Marine Corps PR, helping the potential recruits see that they can become a Marine and continue their music.
As for the concert, the Marine Corps Band New Orleans will perform a variety of music, including marches composed by John Philip Sousa. And, Call, a clarinetist, plans to revisit a piece by Percy Grainger, called Molly on the Shore, that her performed while he was a senior band member at Fort Walton Beach.
To make it extra special, Call has invited his old band director Ernest Hebson to guest conduct the piece during the concert. And, he's thankful to the Vikings' current band director Randy Folsome for the invite to perform at the school.
The Marine Corps Band New Orleans concert is this Friday night, 7:00 at Fort Walton Beach High School. It's free and open to the public.