West Point Band
With the establishment of the United States Military Academy in 1802 came an increased demand for military music. As the academy grew, it needed fifers, drummers and buglers to drill the new cadets and provide an audible order to their duty day. In 1817 the ensemble was named the “West Point Band,” and by this time was performing on a full range of instruments, which included two bassoons, two Royal Kent bugles, a tenor bugle, ten clarinets, three French horns, a serpent (an early bass horn), cymbals, a bass drum, eight flutes, and two trumpets.
Today’s band consists of four components: the Concert Band, the Jazz Knights, the Hellcats and Support Staff. They combine to form the Marching Band. The organization fulfills all of the official musical requirements of the Academy, including military and patriotic ceremonies, public concerts, sporting events and radio and television broadcasts, as well as social activities for the Corps of Cadets and the West Point community.
As the senior premier musical representative of the United States Army, the band has appeared at many historical events. It performed at the dedication of the Erie Canal; at the Chicago and New York World’s Fairs; and for the funerals of Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Richard M. Nixon as well as the inaugurations of numerous presidents. Additionally, the West Point Band has collaborated with some of the finest musical ensembles in the country, including the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Pops. Members of the West Point Band have also been showcased in Carnegie Hall and featured on the Today Show, 60 Minutes, Dateline NBC, documentaries shown on The History Channel and Discovery Channel, and CD recordings for Columbia Records.