We consider ourselves fortunate to make music and work together not only in the same ensemble, but the same section. Each person in the band has a different story to tell. This is how we met and successfully auditioned for the West Point Band, a group we are thrilled to be a part of and a place we are happy to come to work.
We have made a great team musically, personally, and professionally since the day we met at the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina. We grew together through our undergraduate at Florida State and graduate studies at Southern Methodist University, studying with the same teachers and playing in the same ensembles. We fondly look back on those times and are thankful to share the same educational and professional experiences. Some of those include summers with the National Repertory Orchestra and subbing with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Nicole was also a fellow at Tanglewood and performed with the New World Symphony Orchestra prior to her audition with the West Point Band.
Nick always knew about the premiere military bands because his father was a horn player in the United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own”, in Washington D.C. for 32 years. Deep down he always wanted to go into the family business and winning a position with an organization like the West Point Band was a realistic long-term goal he realized in October 2005.
Nick completed graduate studies and reported to West Point in August of 2006. Nicole moved to New York after finishing her degree and we married in 2008. She freelanced and took orchestra and military band auditions before winning a position with the Concert Band in May of 2009. When Nick learned she was interested in auditioning, he recused himself from the entire process, leaving the outcome of the audition to Nicole’s prowess as a musician and the skilled ears of his colleagues on the audition panel.
Having intensively studied with the same teachers at the same schools, we know each other’s tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses, which helps us, our section, and the unit be more efficient. This is critical when our operational tempo as an ensemble and as a unit is so fast-paced.
We model our approach to playing and working together after our teacher and mentor, Greg Hustis, who is the epitome of the consummate professional. He was and still is a great role model on and off the stage. This is something we strive to emulate every day, which has worked very well since we started dating ten years ago!
As it has been throughout our relationship, we enjoy regular opportunities to practice at home and rehearse excerpts and duets. We often give each other honest and constructive feedback and enjoy being able to share similar work experiences.
The band schedule is both predictable and unpredictable. While this can be challenging for anybody, this is compounded by the fact that we are new parents. We rely on wonderful childcare providers in New Windsor during the normal duty day. As professionals who offer musical and ceremonial support outside of the regular days and hours of the work-week, we often rely on teaming up with Staff Sergeants Joe and Mikki Skinner for those occasions since our daughters attend the same daycare and get along so well. We also share the unique challenges of being a dual military couple in the West Point Band.
For more intensive occasions, such as the annual Army-Navy trip, we heavily lean on family. Since all our family live on the east coast, finding grandparents or aunts and uncles to watch our daughter is never a problem.
We are thankful for the help and support of our friends and family. We love spending our free time with them, traveling, and exercising. We had personal bests at another Army Ten-Miler this fall as part of the West Point Band Team. We strongly feel keeping up with physical fitness and a clean diet are instrumental to our performances as musicians and our overall well-being.
We consider it a privilege to be members of the West Point Band, a fantastic organization that is the sum of its parts. We love the opportunities to grow as we feed off energies from each other and the collective creative collaboration of our friends and colleagues. This inspires us to stay honest with our musicianship and keeps us current in an art form and a world that is always changing. The Academy and the Army often place new demands on us as musicians and professionals and we approach everything with an open mind and a can-do attitude.
Words by Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Caluori and Staff Sgt. Nicole Caluori