News Column

Army band to perform at Pocono Mountain West High, with students joining in

June 23, 2014

By Chris Reber, Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa.

June 23--During World War II, more than half the members of the 28th "Keystone" Division Band were wounded, killed or captured in the Battle of the Bulge.

In those days, the band doubled as an actively deployed unit.

Today's unit is made up of National Guardsmen who primarily provide music in the community and at government functions.

The band will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Pocono Mountain West High School.

The program includes a full concert band, as well as the band's brass quintet, a 20-piece ceremony band and their 13-piece "big band" that plays at military dances.

They will also welcome students from the Pocono Mountain West band to join the full band at the end of the program.

Head Conductor and Staff Sgt. Daniel Klingbeil said it will be a great event for students who play in their concert bands and anyone who wants to be entertained.

"You'll come away feeling very patriotic and very proud of your country," Klingbeil said.

The show will present a opportunity for West band students, who will join the band on stage. Band director Charlie Gambino said his students are up to the task and are well versed in many patriotic songs the band plays.

"It's a pleasure, and I'm sure it's going to be very exciting for them too," Gambino said.

At one point, the 28th Division band had 10 school band directors, but it now has a diverse membership of Guardsmen, including landscapers, nurses and police officers.

"We have lots of varied interests -- our alto sax runs a family farm," he said.

He said many of the band members have the ability to play professionally. To put it in terms high school students can understand, one of the band's members was a three-year attendee of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association state band festival.

Those looking to join the band are required to audition when they sign up for the Guard. The Guard allows soldiers as old as 60.

Klingbeil said one interesting dynamic is that higher-ranking musicians often have to give up their seats to lower-ranking soldiers who may just be better at their instrument.

He cited one ensemble that is led by a first sergeant, but has a lower-ranking sergeant as its first trumpet.

But band members still work within a military structure, which leaves little room for egos that can often complicate professional music acts.

"As an Army unit, you can actually pull a person aside," he said. "There's no showboating."


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Source: Pocono Record (Stroudsburg, PA)

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