They often go unseen by the larger public, but their contribution to the success of Navy Band Northeast’s mission is immeasurable. Navy Band Northeast’s Brass Quintet, Woodwind Trio, and Protocol Combo are often the musical equivalent of the Navy’s tactical fast-attack units. These musical groups yield a maximum impact with a minimum use of personnel and financial resources. Navy Band Northeast is currently manned at 30 sailors, but receives an average of more than 425 musical engagement requests per year. While every sailor performs in the band’s larger Ceremonial Band, Marching Band, and Pops Ensemble, these small autonomous units provide musical support for a myriad of military ceremonies, public concerts, nationally televised broadcasts, school outreach performances, and Assisted Living Center recitals. These unique assets afford Navy Band Northeast the ability to maximize our performance capability well beyond what would be possible if the band functioned solely as a single unit.
One of the most rewarding performance opportunities for these ensembles are those occasions where local public schools request to host the band. These schools reach out to the band for many reasons: to emphasize patriotic holidays, to honor military service, or to present professional musicians to inspire their students and nurture their creative voice. The universal language of music creates wonderful connections between our Sailors and the students. These relationships create goodwill, an understanding and appreciation of military service, and reflect a special, shared humanity. Further proof of this relationship is often found when entire classrooms of children send unsolicited cards and letters of appreciation. Our Sailors love to receive these often adorable affirmations and take the time to read and archive every card. Through these educational initiatives, Navy Band Northeast continues to build enduring partnerships between the greater Newport community and the Naval War College, and Naval Station Newport.
The ability of these groups to provide first class support for high level military ceremonies and receptions was displayed prominently during this year’s International Seapower Symposium (ISS). While Navy Band Northeast’s rock band, Rhode Island Sound was supporting Navy Week Springfield (MA), the Brass Quintet and Woodwind Trio effortlessly performed elegant and impressive chamber for the erudite, international guests of RADM Harley. Commander Tyrus Lemerande, coordinator of this year’s ISS, took time out of his busy schedule to visit the Sailors of Navy Band Northeast after the symposium was complete. After thanking the band, he shared an observation about the positive impact of Navy Band Northeast’s musical contribution to the symposium:
“Due to physical space and planning needs, we would often had groups of people simultaneously gathered in different rooms. As I walked around, I noticed that in the rooms where the band was performing, people we talking, they were communicating, they were sharing ideas and forming connections with one another the way that ISS is intended. In the rooms without music, there was only silence.”
No matter the ensemble, Navy Band Northeast continually strives to break that silence, forge lasting relationships, and support the broader mission of the U.S. Navy.
Members of Navy Band Northeast’s (NBNE) Brass Quintet: Musician 2nd Class Brandon Britt (left), Musician 2nd Class Loralee Swanson, Musician 2nd Class Connor Hailey, Musician 2nd Class Christopher Hess, and Musician 2nd Class Edward Reid read various letters sent to them from 5th graders at Agnes Little Elementary School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The brass quintet recently performed for the students and the letters were sent as a thank you to the performers.
(U.S. Navy photo by Musician 3rd Class April Griffin/released)