PORT ANGELES — With about 90 musicians between them, the Sequim City Band and Navy Band Northwest are bringing a cavalcade of music from various eras and origins to the Olympic Peninsula for their “Celebration” concert at 3 p.m. Sunday.
This free concert will be at Port Angeles High School’s Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave.
The concert sees combined performances from the 30-musician Navy Band Northwest’s Wind Ensemble, along with about 60 musicians from the all-volunteer Sequim City Band, at times under the direction of Sequim director Tyler Benedict and at others under Lt. Christopher Cornette of Navy Band Northwest.
“They (city band musicians) are excited to do something new with professional musicians,” Benedict said. “It’s something we don’t get to do very often. It will be great to have them here.”
Navy Band Northwest and the Sequim City Band played together back in 2014 at Sequim High School but haven’t played as one band.
With about 90 musicians on stage, Benedict said, the groups needed more room.
“That’s why we’re at Port Angeles,” he said.
Benedict says he hopes to see a big crowd for the concert, with the Sequim and Port Angeles communities supporting the troops through Navy Band Northwest.
“They don’t expect huge crowds … (but) it’d be nice to see people come out,” he said. “We’re also trying to encourage families to attend.”
A particular highlight of the concert’s first half, Cornette said, will be “A Klezmer Tribute,” a piece that will feature soloist MU1 Deanna Brizgys on clarinet.
Klezmer music — traditional, secular music played by Ashkenazi Jews for joyful celebrations such as weddings — is made for dancing and includes fast and slow tempos, Sequim City Band members note.
Under Cornette’s direction, the band accompaniment replaces traditional klezmer instruments of violin, cello, hammered dulcimer, accordion and drums.
“It’s just absolutely a stunner,” he said.
For Cornette, a native Washingtonian who is based with the Navy Band Northwest in Kitsap County, a particular highlight for this concert comes in the second half with “March Indienne,” a piece composed by 19th-century French composer Adolphe Sellenick.
“Just because it’s so rare. To hear it live, that doesn’t happen (often),” Cornette said.
He found the piece while poring through military band recording archives years ago in Washington, D.C.
“It’s a gem; it’s a slow march, not your up-tempo, ‘Stars and Stripes’ (kind),” Cornette said. “It’s got a kind of heartbeat pace to it.”
“Celebration” will include a first half with Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture,” a piece originally composed for orchestra. In 1954, Shostakovich wrote the piece in just three days to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the Bolsheviks’ 1917 October Revolution.
“Festive Overture” is a piece that many Sequim City Band musicians will remember playing back in college some 30 to 50 years ago, Benedict said.
Also included in the first half will be pieces from Richard Wagner’s romantic opera “Lohengrin” and “A Klezmer Tribute.”
The combined band will perform other celebratory music through the first half of the concert.
Following intermission, the Navy Band Northwest will continue the theme with “Colonial Song,” a piece that Percy Grainger composed in 1911 during his service in the United States Army. The piece is based on original melodies celebrating his native Australia and is mostly played by military bands.
Along with “March Indienne,” the second half will include Michael Kamen’s 2001 composition “Band of Brothers” — a concert band adaptation of the miniseries of the same name. The TV series commemorated the experiences of the soldiers of “Easy Company” (part of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment) assigned to the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division during World War II.
The concert will wrap up with a U.S. military service song medley.
The Sequim City Band boasts 70 musicians, with 55-65 on stage for any given concert. Members live in Sequim, Carlsborg, Port Angeles, Forks, Port Townsend, Port Hadlock and Poulsbo.
With various iterations and ensembles spanning a variety of musical genres, Navy Band Northwest is composed of all active duty personnel.
In 2019, Cornette said, the band — in all its forms — played 352 performances to 1.63 million live audience members and an estimated broadcast audience of 4 million.
The Navy Band Northwest, based at Navy Base Kitsap Bangor, has performed as far away as Cordova, Alaska, and Calgary, Alberta, to the north; as far east as Boulder, Colo.; and as far south to Sacramento, Calif.
“We have the largest area of responsibility of all the bands in the continental U.S.,” Cornette said.
Playing music isn’t a side job for Navy Band Northwest musicians: this is their military career.
“They’re all active duty military; their full time job is this band,” Cornette said. “We often say we’ve got the best career in the Navy and best career as musicians.”
Based at Navy Base Kitsap Bangor, most Navy Band Northwest musicians joined the service specifically to play music, Cornette said.
Cornette said he’s happy to bring Navy Band Northwest to the rural, northwest corner of the state.
“I absolutely love coming out to small town America,” he said. “We love getting out in the audience, talking to folks and building relationships.”
Out of the 30 in the wind ensemble playing in Port Angeles on Sunday, none came from other positions in the service, he said. For more about Navy Band Northwest, see www.youtube.com/user/NavyBandNW, www.facebook.com/NavyBandNorthwest, or on Instagram, @navybandnorthwest.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].