DENVER (3/7/10) – The Colorado Army National Guard’s 101st Army Band held a free, public concert at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in downtown Denver to continue the year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Colorado National Guard.
Sounds from years past filled the opera hall, fondly known to locals as “The Ellie,” as the 51-piece band honored each decade of the CONG’s existence with songs and styles reminiscent of the eras.
The 101st Army Band, based at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., features an array of musical ensembles that perform across a wide spectrum of musical styles and in a variety of environments. As “Colorado’s Musical Ambassadors,” the band performs from Alamosa to Sterling, Rifle to Lamar; the entire state is in its musical backyard. No other unit has as much direct contact with the public – nor as diverse a training schedule.
In civilian life, the Citizen-Soldiers who perform with the band are students, lawyers, public school teachers, college professors, engineers and pilots, to name just a few. Some are professional musicians by trade. All express their passion for music by performing as an Army band member.
“We’re performing because these kinds of celebrations are what we do,” said Staff Sgt. Gary Wooley, drum major and trumpet section leader. “Doing things for the public is a big part of our mission.”
Not only does the 101st Army Band play for specially-sanctioned celebrations, Soldiers also serve another very special purpose in the state.
“We also honor veterans, and that’s one of the things we’ll be doing,” said Sgt. David Morrill before the concert. Morrill is the euphonium section leader and lead singer of the band’s rock group.
The mission of 101st Army Band is to provide music to enhance unit cohesion and Soldier morale. The band also provides music – with proper approval – to support civil-military operations, coalition operations, recruiting operations, as well as events tied to both national and international community relations.
“Fostering a spirit of personal adventure and growth, we present the most favorable image possible for the purposes of recruiting, morale and public relations,” said Sgt. Nicolas Harris, 101st Army Band readiness technician.
Many different types of music were performed at the 150th anniversary concert, including ceremonial and marching music, and traditional concert music. Smaller groups played Dixieland jazz, rock and country said Morrill.
“I like ‘Each Time They Tell Your Story’,” said Sgt. Kalynn Carlton, the band’s operations noncommissioned officer. “That is why we … play military music, so we can tell the Soldiers’ story.”
Community events such as the concert help create a sense of community and put a public face on the National Guard. “The bottom line is we are doing this to thank Colorado citizens for their outstanding support and to honor the 150th anniversary of the Colorado National Guard,” said Staff Sgt. James Stewart, the unit’s readiness noncommissioned officer. “We strive to provide the highest quality musical support possible to the Colorado National Guard and the citizens of the state.”