It was not a typical Tuesday evening earlier this week for nine local band and chorus students. The group of nine from Statesboro and Southeast Bulloch high schools performed in concert at Statesboro High with one of the most respected bands in the world - the United States Army Field Band and Soldiers Chorus.
"When we were playing ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,' the horns reached heights I had never heard before," said Mitchell Sutcliffe, a trumpet player with the Statesboro High band. "It was astonishing."
As the premier touring musical representatives for the United States Army, the Field Band travels thousands of miles each year throughout the nation and abroad. Since its formation in 1946, the Field Band has appeared in all 50 states and in more than 30 countries. Tuesday night, they were in Statesboro.
The five local band students and four local chorus students learned Monday that they were requested by the band to appear on stage with the performers.
Three of the band students were from Southeast Bulloch High: Roger Allen Jr., who played the oboe; Johan Warburton, who played the French horn; and Kassie Ormsby, who played the bassoon. The other two were from the host school, Statesboro High: Latitia Poe, who played the flute; and Sutcliffe, who played the trumpet.
All four of the chorus students were from Lisa Muldrew's chorale group at Statesboro High: Brandon Hester, who sang bass; De' Andre Williams, who sang tenor; Gazzie Fulcher, who sang alto; and Raven Mobley, who sang soprano.
Master Sergeant Dan Sherlock, the Army Band's "student coordinator" and tuba section leader, said Tuesday's performance was even more special, as the Soldiers Chorus and the Army Band performed some tunes that were especially to be performed with local student musicians.
After the performance, the students were ecstatic. SEB's Warburton was amazed by the degree of difficulty of the pieces performed by the band, while Allen and Ormsby remarked on the wide range of musical selections performed, from Rimsky-Korsakov to John Phillip Sousa to Huey Lewis.
Statesboro floutist Poe was particularly impressed with the performance by five piccolos. Several of the students commented on how the piccolo is so difficult to play that there is an old saying among musicians that "the best way to tune four piccolos was to shoot three of them."
The SHS chorus students said that after singing with the Soldiers Chorus what impressed them the most was watching the chorus sing so many different kinds of songs, switching between the different pieces with ease.
Both Mobley and Fulcher said they had never heard so many voices singing so completely in unison, adding that the singers were constantly changing pitch and tempo effortlessly. Hester and Williams both said it was an honor to sing with a group of such high caliber, adding that they felt slightly awestruck.
All four of Muldrew's students said after seeing how the members of the Soldiers Chorus were able to make a career of their passion for singing they couldn't help but wonder if they might be capable of doing the same.