JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, Washington, D.C. –
After two years off stage due to COVID-19 restrictions, The United States Air Force Concert Band and The Singing Sergeants made their comeback with a performance at Paris High School in Paris, Illinois, July 3, 2022.
The four-day tour featured live performances across Illinois and Kentucky, including an Independence Day performance at Mt. Vernon Airport in Illinois.
“This tour that we have here during Fourth of July is to connect with American citizens,” U.S. Air Force Col. Don Schofield, the Band’s commander and conductor, said. “We're doing that this year throughout Illinois and Kentucky.”
Schofield added that the performances are also connecting citizens through broadcast platforms. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Band had to hold performances virtually through their social media platforms.
“It feels great to be back on tour,” said Schofield. “We never stopped performing and connecting with audiences, but during COVID we had to do it virtually. What we miss from that is that direct audience interaction, to go out into the audience after the performance and shake hands and get to hear their stories.”
The U.S. Air Force Band honors those who have served, inspires American citizens to increased sense of patriotism and service, and positively connects with the global community on behalf of the U.S. Air Force.
Using music to bridge language, cultural, societal and socio-economic differences, the Band's performances advance international relationships and inspire positive and long-lasting impressions of the U.S. Air Force and the United States, Schofield explained.
“Part of The U.S. Air Force Band’s mission is community engagement,” said Schofield. ”This community engagement mission enables us to get out and humanize the Air Force image to communities that maybe don't have an opportunity to see the Air Force.”
1st. Lt. Brandon Holtz, flight commander and associate conductor, experienced his first tour with The Air Force Concert Band. He transferred from The Air Force Band of Mid-America located at Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County, Illinois, and comes from a long line of service members.
“There is nothing like performing live!” Holtz expressed. “Seeing the veterans in the seats again hit me a little harder than I thought it would. Sometimes it hits me more personally than I think it’s going to. To see people react in the moment and be able to get music and have that unspoken connection with the audience.”
For Master Sgt. Brooke Emery, clarinet player in The Air Force Concert Band, the tour left a similar impact as it did for Holtz.
“My absolute favorite part about being in The Air Force Band is the people I meet when I'm traveling or at shows, also the people that I work with in the band,” said Emery. “It feels great being able to honor veterans and inspire people to a heightened sense of patriotism.”
Emery plays the E-flat clarinet and has been in the Band since 2003. She explained that observing the audience and watching how moved they are during the performance leaves a huge impact on her as a musician and as a service member.
“In the end, we're able to honor veterans for their service, because especially in parts like this, they have lost their connection with the military,” said Emery. “There's not a military presence around. It's really special for them to be thanked with this huge show of force. That is always one of my favorite parts. My colleagues share that sentiment as well.”
The Band will hold multiple performances at the National Harbor, Maryland and Alexandria, Virginia to finish out their summer tour series.