USAF Travis Brass concert wows audience

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Travis Brass, a U.S. Air Force band, earned a standing ovation, followed by an encore, followed by a second standing ovation from a capacity crowd at Burroughs High School’s Parker Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Jan. 27.

The free concert was presented by the Indian Wells Valley Concert Association. Nearly 600 people showed up to enjoy the show.

The 90-minute concert kicked off with “The Star Spangled Banner,” and included lively classical, jazz, and lyrical pieces to conclude with a medley of the songs for all five military services — Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force.

The encore piece was announced as “the greatest marching song ever written,” “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Audience participation — clapping and singing along — was encouraged.

Travis Brass is part of the USAF Band of the Golden West, headquartered at Travis Air Force Base. The five Travis Brass musicians, active-duty Air Force members from Air Mobility Command, include Technical Sgt. Michael Andrew on tuba, Staff Sgt. Robert Mayes on French horn, Senior Airman Matthew Garza on trumpet and flugelhorn, Airman 1st Class George Brahler on trumpet, flugelhorn and piccolo trumpet and Airman 1st Class Travis Hyde on euphonium.

Decked out in their uniforms, with instruments polished brightly, the five performed in front of a simple white backdrop lit with red and blue lights. One selection was “Goin’ Home” from Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.” The musicians played it like a hymn, sweet and lyrical, after asking the audience to visualize all deployed military personnel coming home.

A bright, sparkling change of pace was “Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite,” guaranteed to make you smile.

Another highlight was “You’d be So Nice to Come Home To,” played in grand 1940s style, with Brahler’s smooth tenor voice alternating with two trumpet solos. Hyde performed a euphonium solo, making for a toe-tapping, laid-back rendition.

Also on the program were: a lovely Renaissance piece, “Conzona per sonare No. 2” by Gabriele/Vallanueva; six of the 10 themes from “Pictures at an Exhibition,” by Mussorgsky/Frackenpohl; “Kinderzirkus Op. 79/B by Koetsier, which musically described children at play; and the unusual “Scrappy Bumptoe’s Picture Cards and Ragtag Dances” by Holsinger.

This last piece included some delightful instrumental “special effects,” like the sound of sunglasses falling off the Eiffel Tower.

Overall, this was a cheerful, uplifting program that showed off the full range of musical possibilities of a brass ensemble.

The Band of the Golden West has a total of 47 members. These members form a large concert band, as well as several smaller groups to go on tour. These include not only the Travis Brass, but also a woodwind quintet, a Celtic/bluegrass group, a ceremonial marching band, a jazz ensemble and a rock band, as well as solo vocalists and bugle players.

All these groups play all over the western states at community concerts, parades, military functions, professional sports events, inaugurations and much more.

For more information about the Band of the Golden West, see www.bandofthegoldenwest.af.mil, or on Facebook: band of the golden west.

Story First Published: 2013-01-30