Phil Ramone Orchestra West Point Visit

In November 2015, The Salvation Army Phil Ramone Orchestra for Children became the beneficiary of a relationship with the West Point Military Academy. At the time, the children were performed for and taught by members of the West Point Brass Quintet. The children enjoyed a repeat of this type of visit in February 2016, but this time with the West Point Woodwind Quintet.

On May 4, 2016, 30 of the advanced students of the Orchestra program were privileged to go on an exciting trip to the beautiful West Point Military Academy campus to witness a West Point Band rehearsal and be taught by members of the band, once again in sectional rehearsals.

As we traveled on the bumpy “cheese bus,” the air was filled with anticipation. When we arrived at the Academy, a hush fell as our military guide hopped on to direct the driver to the band building. The West Point Band building is a music director’s dream, with rehearsal rooms, individual practice rooms and loads of storage space. It was even more exciting for the children when some of them learned of The Salvation Army’s relationship with the West Point Band; formerly Derek Lance, and currently Andrew Garcia and Phillip Broome, who were there to teach one of the children. Further still, that former trombone teacher for the Ramone Orchestra, Staff Sergeant Alaina Alster, helped arrange the visit, along with Staff Sergeant Kristin Mather de Andrade.

In the band rehearsal, I could tell that the children enjoyed it right away. They have never been up close and personal to a musical group of this caliber. As First Lieutenant Darrin Thiriot led the band through several items, you could tell he had the full attention of the children. After practice they were excited to meet and learn from the individual members of the band, who were so gracious to the children.

During the trip back home, the children couldn’t say enough about the wonderful time they had. They were thrilled to be taught by members of the band and, as a result of the trip, came away with an even greater appreciation for music. It was truly unforgettable. These opportunities are invaluable for our children.

The relationship with West Point has every evidence of continuing. We hope to have the same schedule for the children in our next season.

Submitted by Envoy Kenneth Burton
Director, The Salvation Army Orchestra for Children

Credit: Staff Sgt. Chrissy Rivers