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Air Force Band kicks off Summer Concert Series at Memorial

By C. Todd Lopez

BOLLING AIR FORCE BASE, Washington, D.C. (April 05, 2007) -- The Air Force Band heralds in its annual Summer Concert Series of events in the nation's capital with an Air Force Review, April 14, at the Air Force Memorial.

Each summer, the band performs a series of free shows, their Summer Concert Series, at places like the steps of the U.S. Capitol building, the National Air and Space Museum and the National Sylvan Theater. The band will conduct as many as 40 of those performances this summer.

With the opening of the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va., the band has found a new venue where they can conduct their performances. Capt. Michael Murray, flight commander of the United States Air Force Band, said he hopes the band's music will help bring more people to the Memorial, and that the Memorial will help bring more people to the music.

"For me, it really hit that first weekend when we did the Memorial dedication -- to be a part of the initial ceremonial aspect of its opening was very special," he said. "Everybody knows about the Navy Memorial and about Iwo Jima, they've been here for a long time and they've had that history. But it wasn't until recently that the youngest service, the Air Force, had its own hallowed ground. Now we will be able to share that venue with the general public, and hopefully we can use our music to help increase the number of people who go there to see that incredible structure."

The band's summer series of events actually begins Friday, June 1, at 8 p.m. at the Air Force Memorial. But the Air Force Ceremonial Brass Band will hold a pre-summer season performance there, April 14 at 5 p.m. The event, the Air Force Review, will be hosted by Maj. Gen. Bob Smolen, Commander of the Air Force District of Washington.

The review will also feature performances by the Air Force Honor Guard, said Capt. Derek Ketelsen, Director of Operations for the Air Force Honor Guard.

"The Honor Guard and Air Force Band are performing together on multiple occasions this summer, but for the Air Force Review, it will be more on a grand scale," he said. "We'll have about 100 Ceremonial Guardsmen out there, in formation. We'll have a big formation that will march on and do a sequence, and during part of the performance our drill team will march into position and do a 16-man show that lasts about 15 minutes. "

Captain Ketelsen will act as "Commander of Troops" during the Air Force Review. He said the performance of the Honor Guard is as much to entertain the audience as it is to showcase the excellence of the Air Force through its precise drill movements.

"The team's mission is to recruit, retain, and inspire Airmen and the public," he said. "That's what we try to capture each time we go out there. I think we're effective in that target."

The Air Force Band actually consists of seven unique performing ensembles, including the Air Force Strings, Airmen of Note, the Ceremonial Brass, the Concert Band, Max Impact, Silver Wings and the Singing Sergeants. Each of those bands will perform at least once during the Summer Concert Series, helping showcase the Air Force's excellence to the millions of Americans that visit Washington, D.C., each year, said Captain Murray.

"We are the public face of the Air Force, and for John Q. Tourist, they may live in an area where there isn't an Air Force base for hundreds of miles, so there isn't any Air Force representation," he said. "If we can showcase for them the precision of the Air Force Drill Team and the excellence of the music, and after the show we can talk with them, well, that's where we have the opportunity to influence hearts and minds."