10 Reasons West Point Summer Concerts Rock

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Take heart Summer fun-seekers, a concert at West Point’s legendary Trophy Point Amphitheater just might be the perfect summer evening. This annual tradition on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy combines festive friends and family, Hudson River vistas, glimmering stars overhead, and rich American history with heart-stopping music performed under the stars by world-class musicians.

And while words cannot do this spirit-raising experience justice, here are just a few reasons West Point Summer Concerts will rock your world.

 

  1. America.

Music isn’t the only thing in the air at Trophy Point. From the moment you arrive, you’ll sense a patriotic energy that lifts your spirits. With high-flying flags, military heroes, and time-honored cheers, you’ll experience American pride on full display.

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  1. The music will blow your mind.

West Point’s world-renowned band boasts multiple generations of talented musicians, many of whom hold graduate degrees from top music institutions. If the band can captivate at ceremonies, parades, sporting events and celebrations, just imagine how they sound on their own home turf.

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  1. Every seat is the best seat.

Unlike your typical music event, West Point concerts give you plenty of room to spread out, feast on a picnic, and relax with your favorite people. Trophy Point’s natural hillside amphitheater gives fans across the grounds spectacular views and impeccable sound quality. So whether you’re watching the band front and center or dancing on the hilltop with your kiddos, Trophy Point is on point.

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  1. West Point puts the “FREE” in freedom.

West Point summer concerts are completely FREE of charge. Where else can you enjoy an out-of-this-world performance and dazzling fireworks show without spending a dime? Make a summer tradition out of it. And bring visitors. It’s a pretty safe bet this is one experience they can’t get at home.

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  1. You’re part of the show.

Little known fact: The West Point band members are born Rock Stars. And they don’t take that responsibility lightly. So when you come to a West Point Band Music Under the Stars concert, expect great music, but don’t expect to stay in your seat. Because whether inviting kids onstage to play along, letting you choose the evening’s featured soloist, or leading audience sing-alongs, the band constantly finds surprising ways to engage you, the audience.

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  1. History comes alive at West Point.

Think of the West Point campus as a living history museum. It’s where George Washington stationed his headquarters during the American Revolution, calling these very banks of the Hudson River “the key to the continent.” The West Point Band has been performing here since 1817. Since then, they’ve appeared at numerous historic events across the nation.

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  1. West Point = Instagram paradise.

No filter? No problem. Trophy Point is the ultimate picturesque backdrop for a night of unforgettable music, easily transforming any smartphone photo into a masterpiece. Colorful sunsets echo melodies on the Hudson horizon. Heroic fireworks gleam with pride in the stars above. Rest assured, any memory you capture alongside the nation’s finest uniformed musicians will capture souls.  

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  1. There’s something for kids AND parents.

West Point concerts offer summer fun for the whole wolfpack. Your little ones will love the excitement of Trophy Point. Firework shows, dancing on stage, and plenty of opportunities to bask in the joy of music with the band themselves. Plus, there’s not a whiff of bad influence in the air. So parents can kick back, munch on picnic goodies, and enjoy wonderful performances worry-free. Win-win.

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  1. WP is not what you’d expect.

West Point concerts defy expectations. Sure, the band performs classical works, and they do it flawlessly. But these musicians are also masters of country and rock! Think rugged guitar jams, folksy banjo tunes, the whole enchilada. The setting is more relaxed than you would assume too. West Point feels like any college campus. Youthful, vibrant, and full of life. Ideal for a summer music celebration.

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  1. You can’t make this stuff up.

Where else can you see top-notch music at a beautiful venue with your loved ones for FREE? Where else can you celebrate America on the very grounds our forefathers fought for? Where else can you see live cannon fire? Cannons!? Only one place: West Point.

 

 

 

Meet the Band

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Staff Sgt. Bryan Ponton

I grew up around Frederick, MD and I received my bachelor’s degree in jazz performance from William Paterson University in 2013. I started in the FORSCOM band at Fort Bragg before joining the West Point Band in mid-2015.

Teachers:

Mulgrew Miller, James Weidman, Harold Mabern

Influences:

Kenny Kirkland, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Mulgrew Miller

25571690313_3cd702caac_zOver Ponton's ShoulderWhen did you join the Army?

September 2013

What do you enjoy doing off-duty?

Going to the gym, hiking, recording

I knew I wanted to be a musician when…

My cousin let me sit in with her blues band when I was 13.

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A performance/job highlight:

Labor Day at Trophy Point and fireworks afterwards.

Did you know?

I have an identical twin brother.

Meet the Band

Sgt. First Class Derrick James

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What do you enjoy doing off-duty?

I’m working on quartet and quintet projects. I also love animals.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when…

When I went to my sister’s school concert when I was in third grade, one of the saxophone players had a little feature. After hearing that, I knew I wanted to play. Unfortunately, when I got to 4th grade the band teacher asked me what I wanted to play and I could not remember what the instrument was called. So I was stuck playing clarinet for a few months.

A performance highlight:

A Beacon Theater performance called a night of Three Divas, where I performed with Chaka Khan, Donna Summer and Gloria Estefan. During the show, Prince jumped out of the audience onto the stage and performed a few songs with us.

Dream group:

Jimmy Cobb, Cannonball Adderley, Kenny Kirkland, Lee Morgan, Christian McBride

Did you know?

I’m actually taller than I look.  #platformshoes

Meet the Band

Sgt. First Class Carla Loy Song

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I come from a family full of musicians, so I’ve been singing all my life. I gained interest in the Army music program after my sister joined the Army Band’s “Pershing’s Own” in Washington, D.C. when I was just beginning college.  It was because of her influence that I steered my education and experiences to possibly become a musician in one of the Premier Bands of the Armed Forces.

I joined Army and the West Point Band as a trumpet player in the Concert Band in 2007. A highlight of my time in the CB was playing with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall on their Independence Day concert in 2008. The joint “Stars and Stripes Forever” alongside some of the most respected musicians in the orchestral world was such an exciting musical moment for me.

Teachers:

Ed Cord, Chris Gekker (Trumpet) Michael Redding, Leah Trigg, Elaine Moebius (Voice)

Influences:

Many members of my family have influenced my love for music. My parents and older sisters are probably my biggest influences. I also have two uncles who are/were trumpet players, one of whom was an Army musician, and my grandfather also played jazz piano while in the Army during WWII.

When did you join the Army?

Summer 2007

What are some of your extra duties?

I love meeting and working with new people, which is a great fit for my extra duty job of the West Point Band Guest Artist Coordinator. The West Point Band has brought in a number of amazing guest musicians and conductors while I’ve been doing this job, and I love meeting them and learning about their careers outside the Army.

I’m also lucky that I get the opportunity to sing with the Benny Havens Band even though I was hired to play the trumpet in the West Point Band. I love to sing, and feel very fortunate to be able to share that talent with the Corps of Cadets.

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 An Army performance highlight:

Some highlights include singing with the Benny Havens Band during halftime of a few Army football games and performing for Ambassador Power, the US Ambassador to the UN, and getting her to sing along with the band into my microphone.

Dream Group:

The West Point Band’s Benny Havens Band

Did you know?

While I often dream about cashing in a big tournament like the World Series of Poker, I did win a tournament at the Bellagio in Las Vegas – my husband took 2nd place. 🙂

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Meet the Band

Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Caluori

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Summa cum laude with a BM from Florida State University as a student of Dr. William Capps.  MM from Southern Methodist University (SMU) as a student of Mr. Gregory Hustis (Principal Emeritus Horn of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra).  Second prize winner of the University Division of the 2005 International Horn Competition of America.  National Repertory Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute, extra with Dallas Symphony Orchestra.  Currently: sub with Albany Symphony Orchestra and Principal Horn of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, and adjunct faculty at Marist College (Brass Instruction)

Teachers: Gregory Hustis, Dr. William Capps, Edwin C. Thayer, Sylvia Alimena, Kevin Reid, Marco R. Caluori

When did you join the Army?

June, 2006

What are you working on?

Major orchestral excerpts, fundamentals, and challenging etudes to continue musical growth.

 What are some of your extra duties?

I have been the Unit Historian since 2007 and am active in our 2017 bicentennial planning.

 What do you enjoy doing off-duty?

Principal Horn with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, avid fitness enthusiast and a firm believer in strong mind and strong body.

Adjunct Faculty, Brass Instruction at Marist College since 2007

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 Other projects:

2014 West Point Master Teacher Program two-year certificate program graduate with a capstone thesis on Mindset and Motivation, focusing on the work of Dr. Carol Dweck where I presented at my graduate school alma mater in November 2014.

An Army performance highlight:

Performances with the New York Philharmonic, opening of Sarasota Patriot Plaza, opening of FDR Four Freedoms Park in New York City, and Ellis Island Medals of Honor ceremonies (where my family immigrated to the United States)

Did you know?

Nicole Caluori is my wife, and the Principal Horn of the West Point Band.  We have made a great team musically, personally, and professionally ever since we met at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina in the summer of 2002.  We studied together at Florida State University and Southern Methodist University where we shared similar experiences, including playing extra with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and summers as fellows with the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado.  Playing alongside her and Matt Smith and Drew Mangus makes growing as a musician an easy thing to do.

Some of my earliest and fondest musical memories are of my father performing as a member of the United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own.”  He is the inspiration for my realistic goal of winning a position with a premier military band.  He had a remarkable 32-year career as a horn player at TUSAB and was my first teacher.  I value his insight and experience since going in to the “family business.”  His brother, my uncle Ernest Caluori, also a horn player, had a 26-year career at TUSAB as well.  At the end of our careers at West Point and the years my father and uncle have spent at TUSAB, the Caluori family will have invested over 100 years of cumulative service as horn players in the Army premier bands!

I am active in the South Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do and hope to achieve my black belt in 2017.  I began as a student in Tae Kwan Do when I was eight years old, studying with a member of the US Army Chorus and was a bronze medalist in sparring at the 1992 Junior Olympics!

Meet the Band

Master Sgt. John Manning

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I was born in Poughkeepsie and grew up in Ebensburg, PA. I attended college in Indiana, PA and Denton, TX. 16 years in as a Hellcat bugler and counting!

Teachers:

Keith Johnson, Calvin Weber, Gary Bird, Bill Stowman, Bryan Edgett, Michael Sachs, Jeff Curnow, Chris Gekker

Influences:

All types of music and my parents.

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When did you join the Army?

October 6, 1999

Current Projects:

Creating Bugle Section Continuity Book, so all the diverse aspects of the job are codified for all to see; practicing to get better every day!

Off-Duty:

Volunteer firefighter for 28 years; Go Steelers!; all things Irish

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I knew I wanted to be a musician when…

I’m not sure of any specific event, but I started trumpet in 4th grade, and have known since 6th grade that I wanted to be in music. I just fell in love with the trumpet as a kid.

An Army performance highlight:

Highland Military Tattoo at Ft. George, Inverness, Scotland! Carnegie Hall debut as part of the Academy’s bicentennial celebrations in 2002–on a bugle!

Dream Group:

Tower of Power

Did you know?

I wore lederhosen playing polkas at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Awesome job!

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Meet the Band

Sgt. First Class Rone Sparrow

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Rone Sparrow is a multi-faceted musician with credentials as a classical percussionist and drum set artist. He has performed in Europe, Asia, Australia, and throughout the United States. His career includes engagements with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Sundance Summer Theater, The Drifters, Garland/Las Colinas Symphony, Walt Disney Corporation, Hudson Valley Philharmonic, and performances at the Montreux and North Sea international jazz festivals.

He earned a Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance and Pedagogy from Brigham Young University and a Master of Music in Percussion Performance from The University of North Texas. While at UNT, he taught in the percussion department, performed with the UNT Wind Symphony, played in the UNT jazz department in both big band and small group settings, and was a member of the Percussive Arts Society World-Champion UNT Drumline.

Teachers:

Primary –

Ron Brough (BYU)

Christopher Deane (UNT)

Ed Soph (UNT)

Paul Rennick (UNT)

Mark Ford (UNT)

“Also studied with” –

Mike Werner (Met Orchestra)

John Riley (Vanguard Jazz Orch)

George Brown (UT Symphony)

Jay Lawrence (BYU)

Influences:

My first major influence was my parents. Neither one of them is a musician. However, my father always had music in the house and my mother “encouraged” me to take piano lessons. As I grew up, their support continued with the addition of drumset and percussion lessons, attending music camps and festivals, and band rehearsals in the formal living room of our family home.

When did you join the Army?

In June 2002. I was in the middle of my DMA at UNT. I was married with two kids and working full-time. I had never considered a Military Band job until one of my fellow percussion DMA candidates won a job in The US Army Band, Pershing’s Own. His description of the job, the musicians, and the benefits seriously “peaked my interest”. The rest is history…

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Current Projects:

I am planning a chamber group tour to Utah in March. We will be playing in and around Salt Lake City. Our schedule includes a recital at Temple Square, a Music and the Spoken Word broadcast with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and performing the National Anthem to open a Utah Jazz NBA game.

What are you working on?

I always search for time to maintain my fundamental skills on snare drum and keyboard percussion. When I have time for “recreational” practice, I like to work on playing jazz vibes and applying traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms on drumset.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when…

I’m not sure I ever didn’t want to be a musician. It seemed like all I did and I don’t think I ever really considered anything else.

An Army performance highlight:

I’m blessed to work in an outstanding percussion section. We have had the opportunity to present clinics at Percussive Arts Society International Convention (Nov 2010) and The Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic (Dec 2011). Those were great experiences. We also have a lot of fun on our steel band gigs. Performing the U.S. National Anthem will always will be an honor.

Meet the Band

Staff Sgt. Alaina Alster

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Staff Sergeant Alaina Alster joined the West Point Band in October of 2013.  Originally from Long Island, NY, she earned her Bachelor of Music in both trombone and euphonium performance from the University of Michigan and her Master of Music in trombone performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

Teachers:

David Jackson, Fritz Kaenzig, Steve Norrell

Influences:

My major influences were my band directors and private teachers growing up. I was very lucky to have an amazing music program from elementary school through high school. All of the music teachers were amazing educators and musicians. They all maintained active performing and teacher careers outside of school and absolutely played a huge role in my becoming a musician.

When did you join the Army?

2013

Current Projects:

Currently getting back to basics…focusing on fundamentals.

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What are you working on?

What do you enjoy doing off-duty?

My extra duties include education outreach. My hobbies include food- (eating it, cooking it, and trying new restaurants), and traveling.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when…

I would attend concerts in high school and wish I was on stage performing rather than listening.

An Army performance highlight:

Playing with the Julliard Trombone Choir

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Meet the Band

Master Sgt. James Barnard

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I am from Chesapeake, Virginia. My music education includes attendance at East Carolina and Old Dominion Universities and later, Purchase College.

Teachers:

Graham Ashton, James Searl and Stephen Carlson

Influences:

Everything—I have a difficult time separating music from everyday life.

When did you join the Army?

August 1997

Current Projects:

I am constantly finding something new to tackle. Over the last three months I have been focusing on improving my piano technique and singing ability. I am always looking for a non-trumpet piece to adapt for trumpet (and my use).

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What do you enjoy doing off-duty?

I ski, hike, rollerblade, bike and run.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when…

I was in eighth grade, and I beat everyone in my trumpet section.

An Army performance highlight:

A combined concert in Vienna, Austria—The venue and audience were tremendous.

Did you know?

Prior to entering the military I was a public school teacher.

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