August 2015 Convention
Washington, D.C.

The Fife: Glory of the Past, Virtuosity of the Present, and Journey Into the Future

This presentation featured music and instruments from the American Revolution to the modern era performed by members of the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. Sergeant Major William White, Jr., served both as announcer and featured soloist in the hour-long presentation. A trio of fifers—John Parks, William Parks, and Andrew Owen—introduced the full-to-capacity crowd in the Coolidge Room to signal music from the Revolutionary War performed on replicas by the Cooperman Company.

Members of the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps

photo by Brian Covington

Jessica Salazar and Kara Loyal followed with selections from the well-known Civil War era collection by Bruce and Emmett, performing on Cloos Crosby antique fifes. Next, William White traded the microphone for his modern Healy fife (now the official fife played by the Old Guard for official functions) to offer an extraordinary performance of Arban’s Fantasy and Variation on The Carnival of Venice, transcribed by modern fife designer John McDonagh and arranged by Corps member Crystal Lee.

The presentation continued with works by renowned composers for fife John Ciaglia and John Benoit and concluded with a world premiere of retired Old Guard member Melvin Lauf’s Xanthem, a four-movement work commissioned by the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps Alumni Association and performed by the whole ensemble.

This paean to the fife introduced to enthusiastic NFA flutists both the history and the potential of the instrument in its past and modern form, performed by members of one of the United States Army’s foremost musical organizations and undoubtedly the world’s most accomplished fife and drum corps.

Members of the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps

photo by Brian Covington

—Wendell Dobbs