SSgt. Tony McCormick, of Enansville, IN., hits the right note on his trumpet while performing in the Albany Marine Band's "Home for the Holidays" concert at Darton College Wednesday night. The audience enjoyed over a dozen holiday favorites performed by the 2010 Band of the Year, which has traveled more than 20,000 miles last year providing music for military ceremonies, community celebrations and official events.
ALBANY So what’s the prize for being named the Marine Corp’s best band two years straight? Deactivation, according to Marine officials.
The Albany Marine Band has a reputation as one the armed forces’ pre-eminent performing arts ensembles and yet, as the Marine Corps attempts to deal with growing fiscal restraints, the group is finding itself on the chopping block with the axe expected to fall at some point in 2012.
The group was named the 2011 Marine Band of the Year by the Marine Corps this week, for the second time in two years, officials say. The band also picked up the award for best live recording of the year.
But Thursday, word came down from Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington that the band would be the victim of budget cuts.
The bands stationed at bases in Albany and Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., are slated for deactivation, according to the Marine Corps Times.
“The United States Marine Corps is America’s expeditionary force in readiness, and serves as the nation’s crisis response force. In order to sustain this capability in times of fiscal austerity and budget reductions, the Corps had to draw down in several areas. One of these difficult decisions involved deactivating two Marine Corps musical units, to include Marine Corps Logistics Command’s Albany Marine Band,” MCLB spokesman Lt. Kyle Thomas said.
Formed in 1990, the Albany Marine Band is one of only 12 bands in the Corps.
According to the group’s website, the band travels extensively, entertaining crowds across the country.
In December of 2003, the Albany Marine Band was awarded the distinguished “Commander in Chief Installation Excellence Award.” Signed by the secretary of defense, this award recognizes the members of the Albany Marine Band for their pride and commitment in performing their duties. The secretary of defense also noted the band’s exemplary achievements in supporting the mission through imaginative and innovative actions. The Albany Marine Band was given the honor of being selected to represent the United States in 2004, performing for the Changing of the Guard at the Citadel in Quebec City, Canada, the only non-Canadian Band chosen to do so.
In 2008-2009, the Band traveled more than 50,000 miles to perform at more than 100 commitments in locations such as Essex Junction, Vt., New Orleans, San Antonio, Texas, and at the re-opening of the crown at the Statue of Liberty in Liberty, N.Y. The Albany Marine Band performed for more than 20 million people nationwide in 2008-2009, along with performing on national television for Good Morning America and The Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.
With music as their primary mission, all Marine musicians in the band are selected by audition and must maintain a high level of instrumental proficiency. Additionally, with the Marine Corps tradition of “every Marine a rifleman,” all Marines in the band are fully trained to fulfill their secondary mission of bearing arms in the defense of the nation. Above and beyond their musical and military roles, each Marine has supplementary administrative responsibilities within the band to support the unit’s high operational tempo.