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Military musicians enjoy home-stage edge for performance at North High

October 11, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - Staff Sgt. Todd Sturniolo had a home-stage advantage on Friday when the U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers' Chorus performed at North Hagerstown High School.

Sturniolo, a trombonist, graduated from North High in 1997.

Staff Sgt. Jessica Medina of the chorus wasn't far from home, either.

Medina is from Bunker Hill, W.Va., and graduated from Musselman High School in 1999.

They were among about 125 musicians who put on a show that included marches and show tunes.

"We travel all over the country," said Maj. Bruce Pulver, a deputy commander and one of three band conductors.

The Hagerstown stop started a tour through West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Colorado.

The Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus, based at Fort Meade, Md., will take the Army's message to 30 cities in 35 days.

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"We're soldiers representing soldiers," Pulver said.

Friday's free concert was sponsored by The Herald-Mail Co.

More than 1,000 people were there, including Sturniolo's parents, Gary and Jan; his wife, Heidi; his grandfather; two uncles; and two aunts.

Even before the watchful eyes of relatives, "nerves aren't a problem," he said during an intermission.

Sturniolo's only other show in Hagerstown during his five years with the Army band was in 2006 at Hagerstown Community College.

Backstage, musicians snacked on cookies that Jan Sturniolo made, plus apples and bottles of water that she and her husband provided.

Another fan in the audience was 69-year-old Donald Smith of Hagerstown, a B-flat clarinetist with the band for 20 years before he retired in 1982.

Band members fondly greeted Smith, who was known for his nickname, "Snuffy," and for the haircuts he gave.

Medina, a Shepherd University graduate, joined the chorus in February.

She said she was nervous, but excited to have her parents and younger brother see her with the chorus for the first time - "a good nervous," she said.

Then, she stepped on stage for a solo rendition of "Goodnight My Someone" from "The Music Man."

Smith said he liked "carrying the music to the grass roots of America" while with the band.

Sturniolo said he loves both "the high level of musicianship" and "(making) everyone feel so proud about their country."

"I can share my patriotism," he said.

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