After visiting the Bayfield Performing Arts Center, the U.S. Air Force Academy Concert Band tour manager knew he had found the right venue for a concert in Southwest Colorado.
The band will perform at 3 p.m. Feb. 18 at the center. Tickets are free and are available at First National Bank of Durango’s Bayfield location.
“It’s an incredible facility,” Tech. Sgt. Patrick Brush said.
The band will also visit Montezuma-Cortez High School at 7 p.m. Feb. 17 as part of its Western Slope tour. Students from M-CHS will perform a Sousa march at the Cortez show.
Tickets to the show are free and are available at the City of Cortez Welcome Center, 928 E. Main St.
The music program is diverse, said Brush, who plays the trumpet in the concert band and also serves as tour manager.
On the Feb. 18 program are two new works, including one by David Maslanka, commissioned in celebration of the U.S. Air Force’s 70th birthday. Also on the program are vocalists performing Broadway tunes, as well as a Sousa march and patriotic medley to close the show.
The concert band has about 50 members, while overall, the academy’s music programs have 65 members playing in groups as diverse as a marching band, jazz ensemble, country band, brass quintets and quartets, and a rock band, Brush said.
The concert band tours three times a year, at Christmas, in the winter or fall, and Independence Day. “This tour is big,” Brush said of the eight-day trip, which will start in Salt Lake City and ends in Alamosa.
The Air Force is unique for providing professional musicians a chance to support themselves with their music, Brush said. The academy’s musicians aren’t cadets but enlisted personnel who have to survive a grueling tryout process to get into the service.
In addition to musical proficiency, the musicians have to pass physical fitness tests and demonstrate physical and moral character, Brush said. A lot of musicians try out but aren’t accepted.
The band is based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs and also provides music for the base and the nearby North American Aerospace Defense Command. The band is directed by Lt. Col. David Price.
At the academy, the different bands perform in support functions for the cadets and instructors, such as parades, ceremonies and its impressive graduation.
Air Force musicians get the opportunity to perform all over the world, Brush said. He’s been stationed in Boston, Germany, Omaha, then deployed to Qatar, where he traveled to perform in seven Middle Eastern countries.
The bands play for troops to boost morale but also provide embassy support while they’re overseas.
Brush said he and the other band musicians view their vocation as an honor.
“We’re held to a different code of conduct than any other musicians out there,” he said.
He welcomes everyone to the concert and guarantees the music will be expertly performed, and because of the variety of pieces on the program, there’s usually something for everyone at an Air Force Academy Concert Band performance.
More information about the concert band and other academy bands is online at http://www.usafacademyband.af.mil/
The visit is sponsored by First National Bank, Bayfield Chamber of Commerce and the Pine River Times.
Jacob Klopfenstein, staff writer with The Journal, contributed to this report.