MSG Shawn Herndon
I am originally from Dallas, TX and have been in the Army for 19 years. I began my career with the 296th Army Band at Camp Zama, Tokyo, Japan and was stationed there for 1.5 years before coming to the West Point Band in 1998. While in Japan, I was able to perform with the musicians of their version of our special bands and still maintain those friendships today.
Stephen Girko (SMU) Ron deKant (CCM)
Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, my high school band director, my first private clarinet teacher, the Dallas Wind Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, and both of my college clarinet professors.
When did you join the Army?
I am the Woodwind Group Leader for the Concert and Marching Band. I have had an interest in featuring the woodwind group as a singular entity and am currently developing some projects that would allow this to happen. We have had the fortune to be able to work as a separate group recently, borrowing a few brass and percussionists when the rest of the Concert Band was being utilized as a jazz band, and it was quite a success. I have been assisting our double reed section in their initiative to travel to Japan and perform as a featured group at the International Double Reed Summit. I am also facilitating a proposal that would feature our members on an Academy Recital Series aimed toward Academy faculty and Cadets.
What do you enjoy doing off-duty?
I am an avid cyclist and former amateur road racer. I was able to finish 2nd place in the largest Pro/AM road race a few years ago in the CAT4 division, going onto to attain CAT3 status (CAT1 being the highest in the amateur circuit). I have ridden too many cycling centuries to count and have recently began hosting a 1-hour training ride at West Point geared toward cyclists of all levels.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when…
I knew I wanted to be a musician when I knew that I could not imagine doing anything else! When I felt with every fiber of my being that I wanted to be a professional musician, I knew I had to go for it!
An Army performance highlight:
I had the opportunity to perform the Artie Shaw Clarinet Concerto with the band when we went out to Seattle, WA. The performance took place in the Pantages Theater in Tacoma, WA and it was one of the most beautiful halls I had ever had the opportunity to perform in. We had a large, enthusiastic audience, which included the Commanding General from Fort Lewis. After the performance, the GC came backstage and congratulated me on an exciting authentic performance and gave me his coin. I was really floored that I had the impact on a senior Army official in that manner and it still carries great meaning to me.
Did you know?
I began singing when I was a small child, and continued to do so through my senior year of High School. I hadn’t sung for a couple of years once I committed to focus solely on clarinet in college, but decided to audition for the Dallas Symphony Chorus as it didn’t seem like it would take that much prep. About halfway through sight reading the 2nd tenor part to the Dies Irae of the Mozart Requiem, I knew things were not going to work out so well. Needless to say, I was not selected and the rest is history so to speak.