Area students will perform with U.S. Navy Band

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; The U.S. Navy Band will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Natchez City Auditorium, stirring the audience with patriotic tunes and entertaining with popular hits. From cinema themes to &uot;God Bless America,&uot; the 55-piece symphony orchestra, considered one of the finest in the world, will play

the free concert, led by Navy Capt. Ralph M. Gambone.

For some honor music students at Natchez High School, the experience will go beyond the pleasure of hearing the band; they will have an opportunity to sit among the professional musicians and join in the Navy band’s rendition of a John Philip Sousa march.

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&uot;In January, these students auditioned at a band clinic held at Southwest Mississippi Community College in Summit,&uot; NHS band director Larry Buckley said. &uot;They auditioned and obtained first chair in their honor band.&uot;

The Natchez students are Jeremy Dixon, playing French horn; John Coleman, playing alto sax; Byram Chatman, playing tuba; and Marcus Washington, playing baritone horn.

Other area students will get the same opportunity. They include Luke Schallot of West Marion High School; Garland Hannah Jr. and Greg Eubanks of McComb High School; and Torie Creel of Jonesville, La.

&uot;The whole reason we’re doing this is for the students and for the general public, for their opportunity to enjoy the program,&uot; Buckley said. &uot;The lineup goes from symphonic marches to folk music to memories of Patsy Cline.&uot;

Sponsors of the program are the Natchez High Band, the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau and The Natchez Democrat. The free tickets are available at the front desk at The Democrat, at the NHS band hall and at Heard Music Company.

&uot;We urge people to get tickets because we need to know how many are planning to come,&uot; Buckley said. &uot;But there is no cost at all.&uot;

The quality of music played by the Navy band will be the finest, Buckley said. &uot;This band plays for dignitaries visiting Washington at the White House and beyond &045; and throughout the world.&uot;

The musicians are conservatory trained. &uot;There is nothing like hearing a symphonic band so professional as this one,&uot; Buckley said. &uot;And probably the greatest thing about them is the esprit de corps.&uot;

The four NHS students showed off their instruments and their uniforms &045; and admitted their excitement at the chance to play among the elite band.

John Coleman, son of Glenn and Cindy Coleman, said he looks forward to the new experience.

Marcus Washington said playing with the Navy band will be the best musical opportunity he ever has had.

The son of Mary and Arthur Washington, he hopes to continue his music studies at Southern University in Baton Rouge. &uot;I’m serious about my music,&uot; he said. &uot;Music is the main part of my life.&uot;

Byram Chatman and Jeremy Dixon have begun to arrange music for the high school band, Buckley said.

&uot;And we have used their arrangements,&uot; he said. Dixon is band captain and plays in a French horn quartet that plays as an ensemble at state contest.

Dixon, the son of Mary and Leandro Dixon, said meeting and playing with &uot;already accomplished musicians will be a great opportunity. It will be a privilege.&uot;

Dixon’s sights are set on music studies at Texas Southern University. He was among students auditioned last week by Richard Lee, director of bands at Texas Southern. &uot;We have five students in the Texas Southern band now,&uot; Buckley said.

Chatman, the son of Clarence Chatman and the late Sherry Chatman, is music librarian for the NHS band, as well. &uot;Music is my life,&uot; he said. &uot;This will be an opportunity to meet people who’ve made it in their lives in a music career.&uot;