U.S. Navy Sea Chanters To Perform At HHS

Posted: March 20, 2014

The 20-member Navy Sea Chanters chorus will perform at 7 p.m. March 28 in the Harrisonburg High School auditorium. (Photo by Courtesy Photo)

Late last summer, J.R. Snow, coordinator of fine arts at Harrisonburg City Schools, received a phone call from a representative of the Sea Chanters chorus —the official choral ensemble of the United State Navy — with a request that Snow couldn’t turn down.

The ensemble, which travels the country during tours, from the Arizona to Washington D.C., was prospecting a final location to cap off this year’s tour.  Given Harrisonburg’s proximity to the nation’s capital, the group’s home destination, the Friendly City was a logical choice.

“I think it’s my responsibility to facilitate these kinds of opportunities to the community,” said Snow, a James Madison University graduate.  “When we get an [offer] from world-class musicians, I’m not going to turn that down.”

And the decision was made:  the United States Navy band would bring its talent to the Shenandoah Valley.

Sponsored by the Harrisonburg City Public Schools Fine Arts in conjunction with the Daily News-Record, the Sea Chanters will perform at 7 p.m. March 28 in the Harrisonburg High School auditorium on Garbers Church Road.  The free concert is open to the public.

And this event won’t be the first time the high school has hosted an illustrious ensemble, as its 1,000-seat auditorium — the city’s largest — has served as a venue for the official choral bands of the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps, in the past.

“I don’t think the Sea Chanters would have contacted us, if the other military groups hadn’t had a positive experience,” explained Snow.  “But it has always been a positive out, and I think that’s due to the community appreciating the opportunity to see world-class musicians right in their backyard.”

The 58-year-old Sea Chanters chorus features 17 singers and three instrumentalists on piano, bass and drums.  Some members of the current group have been serving for the last 20 years and boast a wide range of musical experiences.

According to Musician First Class Michael Webb — who serves as a choral singer, bassist and show narrator — the band will perform a “wide range of styles” during the Harrisonburg performance later this month.

“We perform classical, choral literature, pop music and everything in between,” said Webb, who graduated from JMU in 2000 with degree in vocal performance before joining service in 2004.  “We pride ourselves in tackling different musical styles.”

Snow, who also works as a music instructor at HHS, suggested that this concert will be one that people will remember for a long time.

“To have an opportunity to see the Sea Chanters, the top singers in the entire U.S. Navy, doesn’t come around very often,” he said.  “This will be an opportunity to hear the highest quality of music there is.”

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; ticket holders are requested to arrive before 6:45 p.m.  Tickets may be picked up at the Daily News-Record, 231 S. Liberty St., Harrisonburg.

Contact Matt Gonzales at 574-6265 or mgonzales@dnronline.com.