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U.S. Army Field Band sheds light on our military’s artistic side

Recently, the United States Army Field Band paid UMBC’s very own Linehan concert hall a visit to perform “A Recital of Epic Poetic Proportions.” UMBC’s campus was one of the many stops among their spring tour, which visits all over the Eastern United States.

The show featured a diverse selection of songs, as well as a wide array of vocal capabilities and instruments. Staff Sergeant Ian Bowling stole the show with his versatile voice that ranged from complex German pieces all the way to classic pieces of Americana music. The band showcased their musical ability through mastery of instruments including french horn, guitar and most notably, the eloquent piano play by Hui-Chuan Chen, which was featured in multiple songs and tastefully complemented Sgt. Bowling’s voice.

The show opened with two classical German songs written by George Frideric Handel, followed by three German duets, all of which were written by Robert Schumann. After intermission, the band opened up with “Light in the Hallway” by Pentatonix, a stark change from their opening pieces, which only further showcased the band’s abilities, as it was performed a cappella. Afterwards, the band stunned the crowd with a beautiful rendition of the patriotic classic “America the Beautiful” to which they gave a unique spin, unlike any version I have ever heard before. The show finished out with four more German songs by Franz Schubert and Carl Loewe, each telling a story important to the artists, as well as the performers.

The show was a hit to students in attendance as Bryan Hargraves, a senior acting major, said, “I very much liked (the performance), I really liked some of the solos as well as their rendition of America the Beautiful … I’m glad I came, I really wanted to support our military and the U.S. Army Field Band.”

After the show, I got a chance to speak to the star of the show, Sgt. Bowling, who hand-selected each song for the show and performed in all of the songs. He has been a part of the band for almost four years and goes into each performance with a common goal. “Our mission is to let America and its people know that their Army is here and it cares about them,” he said. “The two patriotic songs performed after intermission were the most emotional way I knew how to achieve that mission.”

As for the other songs selected, he went on to say, “I really enjoy (Franz) Schubert’s songs, as well as (Robert) Schumann’s duets, which played a large role in all the German songs performed.” The diversity in song choice came as a pleasant surprise, as our Army is typically known for mostly patriotic performances. The complex German pieces allowed the band to express their artistic passions and showcase their pure vocal excellence.

The U.S. Army Field Band displayed musical excellence during this performance, and they proved that there is more to our nation’s military than simply brawn. Furthermore, the band shed light on the creative and intellectual side of our soldiers — having their concert on campus was an honor.