Vincent C. Gray, Mayor of the District of Columbia, has extended an official invitation to the AUSA Military Concert Band, “The Sounds of Freedom” (Association of the United States Army, Central California Chapter 6105) as part of the National Festival of the States Concert Series in Washington D. C. to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II and the 150th Anniversary of the end of the American Civil War. The Band, representing the State of California, will perform a formal concert at the World War II Memorial on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. Additionally, they will participate in a special wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, participate in a performance for American Military Veterans, and perform in a variety of concert venues throughout the Washington D. C. area, including the National Mall.
The AUSA Military Concert Band is one of the most distinguished and professional musical organizations of its kind. Its history is well known and appreciated not only in the central valley of California, but in music circles all across the country. The player personnel in this unique ensemble currently includes 60 highly skilled non-compensated volunteer musicians who combine their talents in order to provide performances of artistic merit for the benefit of the active and reserve components of our military, our nation’s veterans, and the community at large.
The AUSA “Sounds of Freedom” Military Concert Band was founded in 1984 when a small group of proud veterans assembled at the American Legion Federal Post 509 in Fresno, California, to prepare for a concert commemorating the end of WWII. . Most of the veterans who formed the small group had previous experience playing in the military bands and orchestras of the respective branches of the military in which they served. Holland Kinney age 95, one of the founding members, continues to play trumpet with the band and is often featured as a soloist during performances.
The “509th”, as it was then called, was an immediate success and demand grew for additional concerts. The band answered the demand and soon became a favorite of the community, giving concerts at the Veterans Administration Hospital Facility and appearing at many civic functions throughout the city, including the annual 4th of July Fireworks Show at the Fresno Fairgrounds; area rest homes; and regular concerts at the American Legion Hall.
With the onset of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC), a shortage of military bands occurred but the need for military bands persisted. As a result of this demand, the band stepped up and made itself available for formal military ceremonies. Members memorized bugle calls and the specific protocols of each branch of the military; and worked to procure the music necessary to support the various military events. This all volunteer band soon found itself deployed to military bases throughout the state of California, playing for the US Army, the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve, the Army Corps of Engineers, the US Navy, and the US Coast Guard. In addition to its military functions, the AUSA “Sounds of Freedom” Military Concert Band maintains an active year-round schedule, regularly presenting concerts for the benefit of the families of our local soldiers, veterans, and members of the local community; provides scholarships for student musicians; and sponsors concert events of significant artistic and cultural merit.
The list of the band’s performances is impressive and includes a Purple Heart Day Commemoration at the Legion of Valor Museum; Welcome Home for the members of the 729th Transportation Company USAR from a tour of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom; Welcome Home for the return of the 341st MP Co. of San Jose, CA from Baghdad; Welcome Home of the 140th AVIM “D” Company from Iraq; the commemoration of the 9/11 Memorial in Clovis, CA; Change of Command ceremonies for VFA-154, VFA-41, VFA-97, VFA-94, CVW-2; CVW-11, Base Hospital, and Base Command at NAS Lemoore; National Civil War Symposium; West Point Cadets Parents Association Gala; Changes of Command for the US Army Corps of Engineers, Sausalito, CA; Legion of Valor National Conference; Association of the United States Army 6th Region Symposium; Change of Command for 1106th AVCRAD; Change of Command for the 63rd RRC Vallejo, CA; Family Christmas Party for the HHC 40th Combat Aviation Brigade; Annual Fresno Veteran’s Day Parade; Memorial Day services at Veterans’ Liberty Cemetery; Welcome Home for the 1113th Transportation Company on their return from duty in Iraq; a Fresno Grizzlies Baseball Game and a couple of Fresno Falcons Hockey Games, to name just a few!
The AUSA Band is a member of the national Association of Concert Bands (ACB) and is the sponsoring organization for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Venture Crew 6105.
The AUSA Military Concert Band comprises the “Sounds of Freedom” Band, the “Dirty Dozen”, the Quintessential Brass, and The Swingin’ Valley Vets.
Sounds of Freedom Band
The 60 member “Sounds of Freedom” Band performs a varied repertoire including new works for wind ensemble, traditional band literature, challenging orchestral transcriptions, and patriotic selections. The band frequently features its members in solo performances that highlight their virtuosity and artistry.
The Dirty Dozen
In 2004, the Sounds of Freedom Band launched the “Dirty Dozen”. This musical SWAT team has a scaled-down instrumentation and is able to perform concerts in smaller venues. The music performed is a mixture of marches and light favorites.
The Quintessential Brass
Established in 2009, this Brass Quintet (plus percussion) is an elite musical strike-force that performs a wide variety of music (classical, contemporary, and everything in between), but specializes in unique, modern, toe-tapping arrangements of original works.
The Swingin’ Valley Vets
This group is a consistent gold medal winner at the National Cultural Arts Festival, sponsored each year by the Veterans Administration. They were featured in the nationally televised spectacular held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Recognized by the Congress of the United States, the AUSA Military Concert Band has been awarded three Congressional Citations for its patriotism, musicianship, and outstanding service to the communities of California. They also are the recipient of a “Distinguished Center of Influence” award from the 1106th AVRAD of the Army National Guard for support of soldiers’ families during the mobilization of guardsmen to Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Through the band and the tireless efforts of its members, Central California Chapter C6105 has found a unique and highly effective way to introduce the public to the Association of the United States Army and tell the soldiers’ story to thousands of people each and every year.