The New York Philharmonica Features the U.S. Coast Guard Band August 21 2013, 0 Comments

Contributed by: Jack Kopstein


The New York Philharmonic presented its tenth season of Summertime Classics on July 3-7, 2013.  They featured five themed concerts with Bramwell Tovey, who has been the host and conductor of the series since its founding in 2004. Maestro Tovey is the Resident Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony whom is featured on Naxos recordings exclusively.

The first program presented on July 3-4, titled "Star- Spangled Celebration," featured the New York Philharmonic and the United States Coast Guard Band (in its Philharmonic debut). Conducted by Captain Kenneth W. Megan, they performed works by John Philip Sousa, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein. The concert also featured the World Premiere of the orchestral version of Bramwell Tovey's "The Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret for Trombone and Orchestra," with Principal Trombone Joseph Alessi as soloist.

The second program was July 5-7, titled "The Planets," which included works inspired by space and travel composed by John Adams, Jacques Offenbach, and Josef Strauss. The centerpiece of these concerts was Holst's iconic work "The Planets" accompanied by a screening of high-definition images from modern space exploration produced by Duncan Copp in cooperation with NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratories. In its review of "The Planets - An HD Odyssey," The New York Times praised the sophisticated combination of music and imagery, noting: "Photographs from rovers and satellites, radar images and computer-generated graphics were combined to give the audience the impression of circling individual planets and sometimes flying over their awesomely barren landscapes."

The United States Coast Guard Band is the premier band representing the United States Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. The 55-member ensemble has performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. The Band has a rich history of performing internationally, and was the first American military band to perform in the former Soviet Union, with concerts in Leningrad and the surrounding area in 1989. In 2008, the Coast Guard Band became the first premier American military band to perform a concert tour of Japan, and the Band toured Taiwan in July 2011.  You can find the recording of this tour, "Live in Japan," on Amazon and iTunes.

Based at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, the Coast Guard Band frequently appears in Washington, D.C., at presidential and cabinet level functions on formal and informal occasions. Historic events include National Christmas Tree lighting ceremonies, the American Bicentennial Celebration with President Gerald Ford, World War II Fiftieth Anniversary events in England, and Inaugural celebrations for every President since Herbert Hoover. Guest artists who have appeared with the Coast Guard Band include Plácido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Elizabeth Futral, Roberta Flack, Shirley Jones, Gregory Peck, Lucie Arnaz, Willard Scott, Walter Cronkite, John Amos, Bill Watrous, Dale Clevenger, Slide Hampton, Cecil Bridgewater, Chris Vadala, David Shifrin, and Philip Smith. The United States Coast Guard Band was organized in March 1925 with the assistance of Lt. Charles Benter, leader of the United States Navy Band; Walter Damrosch, Music Director of the New York Symphony (which merged with the New York Philharmonic in 1928 to form today's New York Philharmonic); and John Philip Sousa, former director of the United States Marine Band.

In 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed congressional legislation resulting in the Coast Guard Band becoming the permanent, official musical representative of the nation's oldest continuous seagoing service. This event also established the Coast Guard Band as one of the country's premier service bands. These performances mark the U.S. Coast Guard Band's New York Philharmonic debut. Altissimo! is proud to present several recordings of the US Coast Guard Band!

- Jack Kopstein