Academy band spreads news in Big Apple

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. John Ross
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
A five-day tour by the U.S. Air Force Academy Band, accompanied by the cadet chorale and falconers, allowed it to reach more than 100 million people through performances in New York City and five national television appearances Nov. 22 - 26.

A tour like this isn't all glamour and lights.

"The amount of work was pretty amazing," said Master Sgt. Steve Przyzycki, a percussionist and tour manager for the band who's been working on the project for more than a year and a half. "The biggest obstacle was making sure everybody was -- no pun intended -- on the same sheet of music. Everybody had the same objective: to communicate the Air Force message.

Over the five-day span, various components of the band and chorale performed 10 times, including appearances at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, the Cathedral of St. Patrick and the illustrious Carnegie Hall. The band also made its routine visits to local area high schools and colleges for community relations and recruiting purposes.

Sergeant Przyzycki estimated the total audience reached on the trip to be in excess of 100 million.

"The depth of this kind of initiative is typical of what we've been doing over the last 15 to 20 years," said Master Sgt. Mark Israel, a trumpet player and 22-year member of the band. "New York is a bigger city, so you see a bigger splash, but this is how we've been doing it. This kind of media coverage would (cost) millions of dollars. The cost of this trip was astoundingly low, pennies on the person, for the numbers we hit."

Help by local companies also kept expenses low. The New York Times ran four free advertisements for the band that would have cost $15,000 each, while the Sheraton New York provided government rates on rooms it could have charged more than $900 each per night. This also saved the band thousands on transportation by providing a central location.

"They understood what we were trying to do, that it was really about the young men and women fighting overseas," Sergeant Przyzycki said.

For those not involved in the planning end, however, the trip was business as usual -- almost.

"The marching rehearsals were something added that we wouldn't normally do before a tour, but the concert band rehearsals were about the same," said Tech. Sgt. Sarah Balian, an oboist and media relations NCO. "This was a high profile and important tour. Everybody felt that and stepped up to the plate. We brought our A-game."

Band members returned to Colorado Springs Nov. 27, but they will have little down time in coming weeks as the band prepares for its holiday concert performances.

"The pace never really slows down," Sergeant Przyzycki said.

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