Making music: UC band director helps lead US Army All-American Marching Band
Posted: Monday, January 24, 2011 9:53 pm
After a very involved audition process, 125 musicians were selected for the group and then traveled to San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The band members arrived on a Tuesday and spent four days of intense 10-12 hour rehearsals to prepare a complete half-time show for the bowl game on Jan. 8
“This is the fourth year for the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band, a project derived by the Music Educators National Conference in conjunction with the U.S. Army. A group of MENC officers and Commander and Conductor Col. Thomas Palmatier from the U.S. Army Field Band got together and decided to honor high school senior musicians the same as the senior All-American football players; and, thus, the All-American band was born,” Easley says.
The event is sponsored by the U.S. Army and selected individuals are sent to San Antonio for an all expense paid week and a wonderful musical experience.
Easley says it was an outstanding honor for him to be selected as a director of the band. He was one of only two high school directors selected, with the remaining staff members all college band directors.
“It was a really great opportunity for me to be a part of this event. The students were incredible to work with and the staff made it possible for me to bring back some new and innovative techniques to use with my band at home. I want to personally thank Director of Schools Gary Houston and UCHS principal Wes Kennedy for allowing me the opportunity to do this. It was really neat to stand on the field at the Alamodome and have my name and Union City High School announced.”
Easley noted that after his experience with this program, he is going to encourage some of his 2012 seniors to apply for the audition process.
“I think the only thing better than me being on staff with this event would be to have one of my students at Union City be a member of this prestigious group.”
Easley has been associated with the Union City band program for the past 25 years. A graduate of Union City High School, he began his tenure as associate director of bands with long-time band master and his mentor, Marion Reithel. He has spent the last 16 years as director of bands. During his service, the Golden Tornado Marching Band has enjoyed great success, including being named five-time Tennessee Division II State Marching Champions; five-time finalist at the prestigious Middle Tennessee State University Contest of Champions; seven-time Class A Regional Champions at Bands of America Regionals in Atlanta, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Murray, Ky., and Murfreesboro; and six-time Regional Finalist at Bands of America Regionals.
Sought after as a clinician and adjudicator throughout the southeastern United States, the UCHS director of bands has had the opportunity to work on the concert podium with the likes of Frank Ticheli, Jack Delany, Samuel Hazo, Danny Schmidt and the late Fredrick Fennell, all of whom are well-known conductors and/or composers.
Easley is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin and is married to musician and pianist Delana Easley. They have three children, all of whom are, or have been, students at UCHS and have been active in the band program: Benjamin, a graduate conducting student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas; Rebecca, a freshman vocal music education major at MTSU; and Andrew, a junior at UCHS.
Palmatier was appointed commander and conductor of the U.S. Army Field Band of Washington, D.C., in September 2007. Prior to this, he served as commandant of the U.S. Army School of Music, responsible for the training of Army Band soldiers, noncommissioned officers, warrant officers and commissioned officers for the Army’s 106 bands worldwide. His previous assignments include commander of the U.S. Army Europe Band and Chorus, executive officer to the adjutant general of the Army and the Department of the Army Staff Bands officer, overseeing band activities for all active, reserve and National Guard bands. Earlier assignments included command and staff positions in Army bands around the world, including service with The U.S. Army Band in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he supervised musical support for the 1989, 1993 and 2001 Presidential Inaugural celebrations.
Palmatier holds a bachelor of music degree, magna cum laude, in Applied Music from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, N.Y., and was selected to receive the Minerva Award in 2010, presented each year to an alumnus who has demonstrated outstanding lifetime professional achievement. He also has earned a master of fine arts degree in music from Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., and a master of Strategic Studies degree from the U.S. Army War College. A member of the Army War College Association, he also belongs to the Adjutant General Corps Regimental Association.
He is former director of the Rochester International Tattoo and former principal director of music for the Virginia International Tattoo. He was also music director of the Dominion Brass Band, which won the Honors Section of the North American championships in 1996. His professional affiliations include the prestigious American Bandmasters Association, the North American Brass Band Association, of which he is past president and an honorary lifetime member, and the National Band Association.
Palmatier has received numerous military honors, including two awards of the Legion of Merit and seven awards of the Meritorious Service Medal. He was the first Army Band Officer to earn both the Parachutist and Air Assault Badges. He also earned a combat patch for service in El Salvador.
His wife, Shirley, is a retired Army Medical Corps officer, and his daughter, Gabrielle, is a ballet dancer and instructor in Los Angeles.
Published in The Messenger 1.24.11