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Premier AF concert band 'wows' fellow musicians at Midwest Clinic

U.S. Air Force Band Commander Col. Larry Lang involves fellow musicians in the audience during the performance of the national anthem at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, in Chicago, Ill. The U.S. Air Force Premier Concert Band performed three heart-pounding concerts for musicians, mentors and fans  gathered from across the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

U.S. Air Force Band Commander Col. Larry Lang involves fellow musicians in the audience during the performance of the national anthem at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 19, 2012. The U.S. Air Force Premier Concert Band performed three heart-pounding concerts for musicians, mentors and fans gathered from across the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

Tech. Sgt. Joshua Kowalsky, U.S. Air Force Band cellist, performs for thousands in attendance of the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, in Chicago, Ill. Every military band sets to exemplify the professionalism that is existent throughout everything in each one's branch of service. The non-verbal message that is communicated by the USAF Band's music is that every single task Airmen perform, across the globe, is done at this professional level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

Tech. Sgt. Joshua Kowalsky, U.S. Air Force Band cellist, performs for thousands in attendance of the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, Ill, Dec. 19, 2012. Every military band sets to exemplify the professionalism that is existent throughout everything in each one's branch of service. The non-verbal message that is communicated by the USAF Band's music is that every single task Airmen perform, across the globe, is done at this professional level. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

The U.S. Air Force Premier Band percussion ensemble performs for fellow musicians, friends, mentors and fans at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, in Chicago, Ill. The Air Force Band became the talk of the conference on opening day following their morning performance featuring several select ensembles to include the percussion musicians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

The U.S. Air Force Premier Band percussion ensemble performs for fellow musicians, friends, mentors and fans at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 19, 2012 The Air Force Band became the talk of the conference on opening day following their morning performance featuring several select ensembles to include the percussion musicians. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

U.S. Air Force Band Clarinetist Tech. Sgt. Kristin King performs a solo piece at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, in Chicago, Ill. "I was able to perform for my high school band director in the audience as well as my parents, grandpa and several students that I've taught here in Chicago which was really special for me," said King. "It's a dream job to play alongside so many other wonderful professional musicians for amazing audiences here, in Washington, D.C., and across the country; it is just a fantastic experience." (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

U.S. Air Force Band Clarinetist Tech. Sgt. Kristin King performs a solo piece at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 19, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Bello, U.S. Air Force Band euphonium player, performs alongside fellow Airmen musicians at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, in Chicago, Ill. Every six years the USAF Band has the opportunity to perform at the clinic as they rotate the experience with fellow premier bands from each military branch stationed in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Bello, U.S. Air Force Band euphonium player, performs alongside fellow Airmen musicians at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 19, 2012. Every six years the USAF Band has the opportunity to perform at the clinic as they rotate the experience with fellow premier bands from each military branch stationed in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

U.S. Air Force Band Harpist Senior Master Sgt. Eric Sabatino watches the conductor's baton during a performance at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, in Chicago, Ill. Each unique performance, built around this year's clinic theme "Honoring our Mentors," invited two guest conductors to the stage. Col. Arnald Gabriel (Ret.), the first conductor of the USAF Premier Band from 1964 to 1985, and Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, personal mentor to current USAF Premier Band Commander and Conductor Col. Larry Lang, both shared the baton with Lang during several of the musical pieces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

U.S. Air Force Band Harpist Senior Master Sgt. Eric Sabatino watches the conductor's baton during a performance at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, in Chicago, Ill. Each unique performance, built around this year's clinic theme "Honoring our Mentors," invited two guest conductors to the stage. Col. Arnald Gabriel (Ret.), the first conductor of the USAF Premier Band from 1964 to 1985, and Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, personal mentor to current USAF Premier Band Commander and Conductor Col. Larry Lang, both shared the baton with Lang during several of the musical pieces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

Musicians, family, friends, mentors and fans of the U.S. Air Force Premier Band give a standing ovation following the third and final performance by the band at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, in Chicago, Ill. "This is one of the most amazing bands in the United States and in the world," said Christopher Poncin, high school band director in the state of Washington. "They set the bar higher and higher every time I see them perform. We are fortunate and blessed here, at the Midwest Clinic, to see and experience an ensemble with such great conductors." (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

Musicians, family, friends, mentors and fans of the U.S. Air Force Premier Band give a standing ovation following the third and final performance by the band at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 19, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

Senior Master Sgt. Chris Kosky, U.S. Air Force Band bassist, is humbled by the crowd's reaction following a perfomance at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, in Chicago, Ill. "What a great way to end the night," said High School Band Director Christopher Poncin, who attended two of the band's three performances. "Thank you so much for everything you guys are doing; keep up the good work." (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

Senior Master Sgt. Chris Kosky, U.S. Air Force Band bassist, is humbled by the crowd's reaction following a perfomance at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, 2012, in Chicago, Ill. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

U.S. Air Force Band Commander Col. Larry Lang and Col. Arnald Gabriel (Ret.), USAF Band commander 1964-1985, watch a video tribute dedicated to Gabriel during a performance at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, in Chicago, Ill. "The spirit, musicianship and enthusiasm--it's a tribute to what we're doing in our universities across the nation. The teaching is better than ever; so the bands and the Airmen themselves are playing better than ever." Gabriel was presented the Midwest Clinic Medal of Honor during the final performance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

U.S. Air Force Band Commander Col. Larry Lang and retired Col. Arnald Gabriel, USAF Band commander 1964-1985, watch a video tribute dedicated to Gabriel during a performance at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, 2012, in Chicago, Ill. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

U.S. Air Force Premier Concert Band Conductor Col. Larry Lang showcases the talents of Airmen musicians for thousands in attendance during the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, in Chicago, Ill. Every military band sets to exemplify the professionalism that is existent throughout everything in each one's branch of service. The non-verbal message that is communicated by the USAF Band's music is that every single task Airmen perform, across the globe, are done at this professional level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)
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U.S. Air Force Premier Concert Band Conductor Col. Larry Lang showcases the talents of Airmen musicians for thousands in attendance during the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, Dec. 19, 2012, in Chicago, Ill. Every military band sets to exemplify the professionalism that is existent throughout everything in each one's branch of service. The non-verbal message that is communicated by the USAF Band's music is that every single task Airmen perform, across the globe, are done at this professional level. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

CHICAGO -- The U.S. Air Force Premier Concert Band performed three heart-pounding concerts for musicians, mentors and fans gathered from across the world, Dec. 19, here at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic.

The U.S. Air Force Band became the talk of the conference on opening day following their morning performance featuring several ensembles to include the Emmy-nominated Air Force Strings and a percussion piece that involved crowd participation.

"This is one of the most amazing bands in the United States and in the world," said Christopher Poncin, high school band director in the state of Washington. "They set the bar higher and higher every time I see them perform. We are fortunate and blessed here, at the Midwest Clinic, to see and experience an ensemble with such great conductors."

Every six years the USAF Band has the opportunity to perform as they rotate the experience with fellow military premier bands from each military branch stationed in Washington, D.C.

The USAF Band Clarinetist Tech. Sgt. Kristin King, a native of Chicago, performed a solo for thousands in attendance to enjoy.

"(During this conference) I've been able to perform for my high school band director in the audience as well as my parents, grandpa and several students that I've taught here in Chicago which was really special for me," King said. "It's a dream job to play alongside so many other wonderful professional musicians for amazing audiences both here, Washington, D.C., and across the country; it is just a fantastic experience."

Each unique performance, built around this year's clinic theme "Honoring our Mentors," invited two guest conductors to the stage.

Col. Arnald Gabriel (Ret.), the first conductor of the USAF Premier Band in 1964, and Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, personal mentor to current USAF Premier Band Commander and Conductor Col. Larry Lang. Both shared the baton with Lang during several of the musical pieces.

"It's really an honor and privilege to stand in front of these musicians yet again," said Gabriel who retired from the USAF in 1985. "The spirit, musicianship and enthusiasm - it's a tribute to what we're doing in our universities across the nation."

After receiving the Midwest Clinic Medal of Honor during the final performance, Gabriel talked about how well the bands have been playing.

"The teaching is better than ever so the bands, graduates and Airmen are also better than ever," he said.

Following buzz from the band's morning performance at the Midwest Clinic, fellow musicians, friends, family, fans and mentors flocked to the two evening performances.

"This is a great opportunity for the leaders in music education as well as those who are looking to be future leaders in music education to see how well the Air Force Band does business," said 1st Lt. Peter Folliard, USAF Premier Band conductor.

The U.S. Air Force Band mission is to honor those who have served, inspire American citizens to heightened patriotism and service, and positively impact the global community on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and the United States of America.

"What a great way to end the night," said Poncin, who attended two of the band's three performances. "Thank you so much for everything you guys are doing; keep up the good work."