Samuel Adler was born in Manheim, Germany in 1928. He fled Germany in 1939 and came to the United States. Since that time he has earned degrees in music from Boston University, Harvard University, as well as numerous honorary doctorates from schools across the country. Mr. Adler joined the United States Army in 1950 and began to form the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra. He later took this orchestra on a concert tour of Europe. This concert tour had such a tremendous effect on the European cultural scene that Mr. Adler was awarded the US Army's Medal of Honor. In 1966 Mr. Adler joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He left Eastman in 1994 and holds the position of Professor Emeritus. Currently Mr. Adler serves on the composition faculty of the Julliard School of Music in New York City. Mr. Adler has composed more than 400 major works that encompass everything from opera and symphony works to wind ensemble and band literature. For the bicentennial of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2002 Mr. Adler composed Dawn to Glory.
Jerry Bilik was born in 1933 in New Rochelle, New York. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan. He served with the USMA Band from 1955-1958 as their chief arranger. He has taught at Wayne State University as well as his alma mater, the University of Michigan. For a time he wrote for various television shows, movies, and live performances in Los Angeles. Mr. Bilik currently lives in Cabin John, Maryland where he serves as the vice president of creative development for Disney on Ice. For the West Point bicentennial Mr. Bilik was commissioned to write a piece and his creation was entitled The Line.
Eric Ewazen was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1954. He attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He then went on to the Julliard School of Music in New York City where he received his Doctorate of Musical Arts in 1980. He has served on the faculty of Julliard since receiving his DMA. He has composed numerous works that have been recorded by the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra. Dr. Ewazen was commissioned to write a piece for the West Point Bicentennial celebration that took place in 2002. His composition was a three-movement piece entitled Legacy.
Edwin Franko Goldman was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1878. He showed an early interest in music and began studying cornet under Jules Levy. Goldman later received a scholarship to the National Conservatory of Music that was under the direction of Antonin Dvorak. By the age of 22 Mr. Goldman has established himself as a cornetist and performed with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for nearly nine years. In addition to his performances with the Met he was a composed for the Carl Fisher Music Company and he also held private lessons meeting with more than 90 students a week. In 191 Goldman organized a concert on the Green of Columbia University. This concert featured soloists from the various ensembles around New York City as well as a host of other freelance musicians. The response to thee concert was incredible and it was revived the following year. Each time new musical selections were performed and new artists entered the group that was being funded by the Guggenheim family. By 1923 the concert series was so popular that it was moved to Central Park. The opening concert of the 1923 season drew an estimated crowd of nearly 30,000 people. Edwin Goldman passed away in 1956 and his son Richard Goldman took over the leadership of the group. The group continued to perform even after Richard passed away in 1988. The group continues to perform today drawing its membership from area musicians as well as young musicians who are recommended by the New York State Music Teachers Association.
Ira Hearshen was born in 1948 in Detroit, Michigan. He received his Bachelors of Music from Wayne State University. He moved to Los Angeles in 1972 to study music at the Grove School of Music. He began to arrange and orchestrate for various artists in and around the Los Angeles area including Randy Newman. In 1983 Albert Harris, who Hearshen had also arranged for, recommended him to composer Joe Harnell who needed help orchestrating music for 2 concurrent series: Cliffhanger and the Incredible Hulk. The work he did on these two series landed him constant work ever since. His music has appeared in the Rush Hour, The Scorpion King, A Bug's Life, and Toy Story 2. For the 200th Anniversary of West Point Mr. Hearshen took the army song Army Blue and used it to create Fantasia on the Army Blue which was premiered at the Bicentennial Celebration at Carnegie Hall in March of 2002.
David Kechley was born in Seattle, Washington. He received his bachelors degree in 1970 and went on to the Cleveland Institute of Music where he received his Doctorate in Composition in 1979. Dr. Kechley has composed 67 major works that have been performed with orchestras such as the Minnesota Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, The Seattle Symphony, and the Boston Pops. He currently serves as the chair of the music department at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Dr. Kechley was selected to compose a work for the West Point Bicentennial in 2002. His creation was entitled Restless Birds Before the Dark Moon.
James Kessler is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He served on the arranging staff of the US Army Band in Washington D.C. for more than 20 years. He has written pieces for National Geographic, the Kennedy Center Honors, various PBS Specials, as well as numerous performances of the National Symphony Orchestra. For the West Point Bicentennial Mr. Kessler composed Hudson River Rhapsody that centers on a dramatic oboe solo performed by Sergeant Major Joel Evans.
Robert Starer was born in Vienna in 1924. He received his musical training at the State Academy in Vienna. He later attended the Jerusalem Conservatoire and the Julliard School of Music. He became a US citizen in 1957. Mr. Starer resided in the Hudson Valley for the majority of his life. Mr. Starer taught at the City University of New York in Brooklyn. His compositions range from operas to ballets, as well as numerous other orchestral works. Mr. Starer was commissioned by the US Military Academy to compose a piece for its bicentennial in 2002, his creation was entitled Fantasy on When Johnny Comes Marching Home. Sadly Robert Starer passed away in 2001.
Bret Truax graduated from the Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He became a member of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 1976 as a trumpet player where he remained until 2000. He has been composing since 1978. For the Bicentennial Celebration at West Point Mr. Truax composed Legacies of Honor. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra first premiered the piece in 1999 along with several members of the Academy Band.
Dan Welcher was born in 1948 in Rochester, New York. Mr. Welcher received his degrees from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He served with the USMA Band from 1969-1972 as a bassoonist and arranger. After leaving the USMA band he joined the Louisville Orchestra where he was their principal bassoonist from 1972-1978. Mr. Welcher until 1990 held a variety of positions with various orchestras throughout Texas. In 1990 he became the composer in residence for the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. Currently he serves as a professor of composition at the school of music at the University of Texas at Austin. Mr. Welcher was asked in 2000 to create a piece in commemoration of the bicentennial of the US Military Academy at West Point. His submission was entitled the Perpetual Song.
James Kimo Williams was born in 1950 in Long Island, New York. After graduating from high school he enlisted in the US Army and was assigned as a combat engineer and soon found himself deployed in Vietnam. While in country an Army entertainment director heard him playing guitar and suggested that he form a band to help boost morale. For several months the band toured throughout the remote battle areas of Vietnam. Mr. Williams returned to the US in 1972 and entered into the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. After completing his degree James and his wife returned to the US Army band. Mr. Williams attended the Officer Candidate School and in January 1980 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. In 1987, at the rank of Captain, he resigned his commission in order to compose full time. He has composed numerous works, perhaps his greatest one being the Symphony For The Sons of Nam. Mr. Williams was commissioned in 1999 to write a piece for the USMA Bicentennial celebration in 2002. His work is entitled Buffalo Soldiers which has also been referred to as American Soldiers.
© William Salluzo, Marist College.