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Posts Tagged ‘Jari Villanueva’

“Echo Taps” on Veterans Day 2012—the 150th Anniversary Year of its Composition

Posted by glennled on November 19, 2012

Taps, original painting by Sidney E. King on display at Berkeley Plantation

In 1862, when Daniel Adams Butterfield composed “Taps” during the Civil War, there was no Veterans Day. A New Yorker, he was then a Brigadier General and later a Major General in the Union Army. Fifty-six years later in 1918, this national holiday was established (first as Armistice Day) after the end of World War I. Its name was changed to Veterans Day after World War II and is now celebrated annually on 11 November in honor of all American veterans. This year is the 150th anniversary year of “Taps,” the most famous of all American bugle calls. Thus, it came to pass that Richard Haydis and I sounded “Echo Taps” to close the memorial ceremony at Veterans Park in Lynnwood on a rainy Sunday, 11 November 2012.

Haydis is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, and I am a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam era. VFW Post 1040 (see http://vfw1040.org/) hosted the ceremony, where the featured speaker was Michael G. Reagan, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, internationally renown artist and leader of the Fallen Heroes Project (see my post of 19 November 2011, and www.fallenheroesproject.org). The ceremony featured the NW Junior Pipe Band (see www.mwjbp.org) and

Michael G. Reagan, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Fallen Heroes Project

Ray Colby, VFW Post 1040 Piper and a U.S. Navy veteran. Cub Scout Pack 331 placed flags in the park and distributed the ceremony programs.During 2012, buglers throughout the nation participated in numerous ceremonies to commemorate the 150th anniversary of “Taps.” The prime event occurred on 22-24 June at Harrison Landing on the grounds of Berkeley Plantation along the James River, southeast of Richmond, Virginia (see www.taps150.org). This was the birthplace of America’s Song of Remembrance.

In late June, 1862, after the Seven Days Battles, the Army of the Potomac recuperated at Harrison Landing. Butterfield himself had been wounded.  It is said of Oliver Willcox Norton, bugler of Butterfield’s Brigade, that Butterfield called him to his tent to work on a new bugle call until, as Butterfield put it, he got it smooth, melodious, and musical, suited his ear and taste. Norton was the first to sound “Taps” as we now know it in early July.  Later, in 1898, Norton wrote a letter recalling the incident:

Taps, Butterfield and Norton

“…One day, soon after the seven days battles on the Peninsular, when the Army of the Potomac was lying in camp at Harrison’s Landing, General Daniel Butterfield, then commanding our Brigade, sent for me, and showing me some notes on a staff written in pencil on the back of an envelope, asked me to sound them on my bugle. I did this several times, playing the music as written. He changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. After getting it to his satisfaction, he directed me to sound that call for Taps thereafter in place of the regulation call. The music was beautiful on that still summer night, and was heard far beyond the limits of our Brigade. The next day I was visited by several buglers from neighboring Brigades, asking for copies of the music which I gladly furnished. I think no general order was issued from army headquarters authorizing the substitution of this for the regulation call, but as each brigade commander exercised his own discretion in such minor matters, the call was gradually taken up through the Army of the Potomac. I have been told that it was carried to the Western Armies by the 11th and 12th Corps, when they went to Chattanooga in the fall of 1863, and rapidly made its way through those armies. I did not presume to question General Butterfield at the time, but from the manner in which the call was given to me, I have no doubt he composed it in his tent at Harrison s Landing…

For a detailed account of the composition of “Taps”, please see “24 Notes That Tap Deep Emotions,” by Jari A. Villanueva, at www.west-point.org/taps/Taps.html.

Taps Monument prior to 2012 renovation, Berkeley Plantation

The Virginia Department of the American Legion erected a monument dedicated to “Taps” on a knoll where General Butterfield’s tent stood in July 1862. This is the only such monument in the country. There is a bronze statue of Butterfield in Sakura Park on Claremont Avenue in Manhattan, not far from Grant’s Tomb. And Butterfield is buried at West Point, although he attended Union College (Class of 1849) in Schenectady, not the U.S. Military Academy (see www.union.edu/news/stories/2012/05/sounding-a-solemn-note-taps-turns-150.php).

Incidentally, the call is named “Taps” because at the end of the call, a drummer would play three distinct drum taps at four-count intervals. And as popular and beautiful as it is, “Echo Taps” is not an official bugle call of the U.S. military. Officially, “Taps” is to be sounded by a single bugle.

Photos of the 2012 Lynnwood ceremony are by Andy Dingman. Please click on any image to enlarge it.

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Taps, Sousa, and Tchaikovsky at Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Seattle on Memorial Day

Posted by glennled on June 3, 2011

Veterans Memorial Cemetery, photo by Thad Westhusing, http://www.thadsworld.net

Picture 5,000 white marble markers on the graves of veterans interred at Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in north Seattle on the grounds of the larger Evergreen Washelli Cemetery. Imagine at least 700 people gathered there for the 85th Annual Memorial Day Celebration. That’s what happened Monday, 30 May. “Ya shoulda been there”–such sights to see and sounds to hear! I especially enjoyed the prominent role of music in the celebration.

It began with a prelude concert by the 50-member Symphonic Wind Ensemble from Seattle Pacific University (SPU), conducted by Gerry Jon Marsh. Among the pieces they played was a patriotic march, a well-loved overture, and an uplifting medley of the anthems of the five military branches. First, John Philip Sousa’s magnum opus, “Stars and Stripes Forever,” stirred the crowd, as it always does. In fact, it is so popular that in 1987, Congress made it the National March of the United States.  As Sousa wrote in his autobiography, ” … Suddenly [while aboard ship returning from Europe to New York in 1896], I began to sense a rhythmic beat of a band playing within my brain. Throughout the whole tense voyage, that imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes, echoing and re-echoing the most distant melody. I did not transfer a note of that music to paper while I was on the steamer, but when we reached shore, I set down the measures that my brain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed.”

Then came the 1812 Overture, written in 1880 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to commemorate Russia’s defense of Moscow against Napoleon’s advancing Grande Armée at the Battle of Borodino on 7 September 1812. At this battle, there were an estimated 100,000 casualties. Napoleon won a Pyrric victory and then captured Moscow, facing little resistance. The Russians had burned part of the city, and Napoleon’s army was weakened, its resources depleted and its supply lines overextended. Without winter stores, the army was forced to retreat. From mid-October through December, it faced several overwhelming obstacles on its long retreat:

Seattle American Legion Post 1 Commander Francis "Frank" Albin. Photo by Greg Gilbert, The Seattle Times

frigid temperatures, famine, harassing cossacks and Russian forces barring the retreat route. Napoleon abandoned the army in December. By the time it reached the relative safety of Poland, the Grande Armée was reduced to one-tenth its original size.

On 20 August 1882, seventy years after the battle, the overture debuted in Moscow in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Marsh says that Tschaikovsky opens the overture with the Russian hymn, “God Preserve Thy People,” and returns to it near the ending when the music depicts God’s intervention in the invasion, causing unprecedented severe winter weather to decimate Napoleon’s seemingly invincible French army.
 

The  SPU ensemble also played a medley of five military anthems in tribute to each branch and those who served in them: Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Veterans in the crowd stood to the applause of the audience when their anthem was played.

The first Memorial Day ceremony at Evergreen Washelli (the Makah Indian word for west wind) occurred in 1927. Marsh says that the SPU ensemble has played at each of these ceremonies for more than 15 years. Students get class credit for doing so. They are required to perform community service once a school quarter, and this event satisfies that requirement for spring quarter. “They enjoy doing it,” he says. For more information about instrumental music at SPU, visit http://www.spu.edu/depts/fpa/music/mus_homepage.html. Since 1985, Marsh has also been the Musical Director of the Cascade Youth Symphony Orchestras (see www.cyso.us/). In 1998, Marsh was inducted into the inaugural Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA) Hall of Fame.

Cooperman Rope Tension Drum, Civil War era

Also performing was the SPU Drum Corps, under the direction of Dan Adams, using authentic drums from

Cavalry bugler, Civil War Gold Proof, U.S. Mint

the Civil War era. These rope tension drums have calf skin drum heads, says Marsh. The Drum Corps was featured during the Parade of Colors. As a clinician, Adams has presented workshops on drumming of the Civil War. For more information on such drums, see www.cooperman.com/ropedrums/civilwar.htm.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, two SPU trumpeters played an echo version of  “Taps.” A history of “Taps” can be found at www.tapsbugler.com. For a complete history you can order “Twenty-Four Notes That Tap Deep Emotions—The Story of America’s Most Famous Bugle Call” by Jari Villanueva at www.nationalcivilwarbrassmusic.org/GiftShop. Next year, 2012, marks the 150th year since the composition of “Taps” during the Civil War in July, 1862.

On Saturday, 16 July, there will be a special ceremony at the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery to honor the six Medal of Honor recipients who are interred at Evergreen Washelli (see www.washelli.com). They are Lewis Albanese, William C. Horton, Harry D. Fadden, William K. Nakamura, Robert R. Leisy, and Orville E. Bloch. On that day, I am honored to be scheduled to sound “Taps,” the most sacred duty of a bugler.

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