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Music: Anchors Aweigh

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Musician 1st Class Kristine Hsia sings with the U.S. Navy Band Commodores jazz ensemble during a concert at the University of North Florida.

The US Navy concert Band to perform

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

The United States Navy Concert Band will perform on March 7 at 7 p.m. in the Pearson Auditorium on the New Mexico Military Institute grounds.

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 95 years, presenting a wide array of marches, instrumentals and vocal solos, orchestral transcriptions and modern wind ensemble repertoire. Every performance also includes a patriotic tribute in which the band honors veterans from all service branches.

“Our primary goal for going on national tours each year is to connect Americans with their Navy, to go where ships can’t go to represent the men and women who protect and defend America all over the world,” Musician 1st Class Sarah Blecker wrote in an email. “It is also important for us to come together with communities at every concert to honor the service of our veterans. These are the folks that built the great military we have today, and it’s critical that we celebrate their contributions.”

Musician 1st Class Arianna Beyer plays clarinet and has been with the U.S. Navy Concert Band since 2017. Beyer is originally from Mount Dora, Florida.

Asked about her background, Beyer said, “My parents and my brother are musicians, so I grew up around music and picked up a clarinet as soon as I had the chance. When I decided that I wanted to pursue music as a career, I began researching music competitions and learned about the Navy Band through its Young Artist Solo Competition. After winning the competition in 2013, and having watched with pride as several family members joined the military, I started to look at military bands as the perfect job opportunity for me. I am classically trained, with a Bachelor of Music Performance from the Eastman School of Music. After graduating, I took the clarinet audition for the Navy Band and won.”

There are challenges and honors in being part of such a prestigious band. “The biggest challenge about being a military musician is maintaining a flexible schedule,” Beyer said. “We sometimes have ceremonial jobs come in the day before or the day of the event, so we always have to be ready to perform on short notice. For instance, we recently had the honor of performing for President George H.W. Bush’s state funeral, which required a quick turnaround for a very high-profile job. For tour though, the biggest challenge is honestly just packing and unpacking the same suitcase every day.”

One of the musicians in the band has New Mexico ties. He is Chief Musician Darrell Partin from Las Cruces. He has been with The U.S. Navy Concert Band since 2008.

Partin had an early start showing his talent for the piano. “I grew up regularly pounding on the piano after my mother got me started when I was 5 years old,” he said. “I was basically self-taught — although not terribly well — until I got to college. I also was very active in choir, orchestra and theater in high school and college. I joined the military band system to get my student loans paid off and it has ended up being a fantastic career.

His biggest challenges traveling with the band is being away from his friends and family. “It’s great to have the opportunity to see pretty much all of America — I’ve been to 47 of the 48 contiguous states on different tours over the past 20 years — but you do miss the folks you’ve left behind at home when you’re on the road,” Partin said. “I grew up in Las Cruces and am a proud graduate of the New Mexico State University School of Music. I also moved back there for a couple of years to serve as the music director and conductor of the Dona Ana Lyric Opera at New Mexico State University prior to joining the military bands. I love my job, but man do I miss the green chile.”

Admission for the concert is free, but tickets are required. Tickets will be available at the door, or they can be acquired in advance by contacting CPT Bill Lamb at 575-624-8442.