Baylor musicians in Army Band and Marine Band provide inaugural soundtrack every four years
Whenever the President of the United States appears in public, there’s music. And dating back to the earliest days of the presidency, military bands have most often supplied the soundtrack that lends a sense of dignity and gravity to presidential ceremonies.
At events ranging from visits by foreign heads of state to funerals to presidential Inaugurations, you can count on bands like the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” and “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band to play a key role. You can also count on those bands to be populated by Baylor alums; in fact, no fewer than nine Baylor musicians performed in the 2017 presidential inauguration last month.
Since the inauguration of Calvin Coolidge in 1925, “Pershing’s Own” has led the president down Pennsylvania Avenue as his inaugural parade escort, in addition to hundreds of other events each year. Seven Baylor graduates are among the 99 members of “Pershing’s Own,” including the husband and wife team of Staff Sgts. Drew (MM ’13) and Paige (BM ’11, MM ’13) Fremder (pictured above). Paige, a flutist, and Drew, a trumpet player, were recently highlighted in a pre-inauguration Facebook video (complete with a Baylor shoutout).
Other Baylor alums among “Pershing’s Own” include saxophonists Michelle Acton (BMEd ’00) and Eli Gonzalez (BM ’00); tuba player Zach Bridges (BM ’14); and clarinetists Emily Ross (MM ’01) and Lane Shioji (BM ’90). In addition to serving the country through their musical talents, all are sergeants of varying ranks in the U.S. Army, and many of them have performed in multiple inaugural parades.
“It’s exciting to have so many Baylor alumni in the band, and a great testimony to the work being done by Baylor School of Music students and professors,” says Paige. “There are many fabulous state schools and music conservatories represented, and I’m so proud that Baylor is among them. It’s truly an honor to be part of a tradition, unique to our country, to demonstrate the peaceful transition of military leadership through inaugural events.”
“The President’s Own” Marine Band has its own storied history of presidential performances. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson bestowed them with the name “The President’s Own” after recognizing the unique interplay between music and the presidency. Since then, the band has performed at 55 presidential inaugurations, providing music for the swearing-in ceremony as well as inaugural balls and the inaugural prayer service.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Steve Longoria (BMEd ’96), a saxophonist, and Staff Sgt. Gerald Novak (BMEd ’96), a percussionist, are both longtime members of the Marines and “The President’s Own.” The 2017 inauguration was the Longoria’s fourth and Novak’s third. For band members, Inauguration Day is a very long workday, with events beginning on the National Mall and ending in ballrooms around Washington, D.C.
“The Marine Band has a long tradition of performing for inaugural events, and participating has always given me a sense of being part of something bigger than myself,” Longoria says. “The last commitment for many of us this past inauguration was to perform for the Salute to the Armed Forces Ball at the National Building Museum. I thought the band sounded fantastic, even after such a long day, and it’s moments like that I always remember — feeling honored to sit beside such outstanding people, outstanding musicians and outstanding Marines.”
Sic ’em, Baylor musicians!