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JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. -- In between rehearsing for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the DAR Holiday concerts in Washington, D.C., several members of The United States Air Force Band are busy preparing for three performances at the 66th annual international conference of the Midwest Clinic in Chicago.

The 2012 Midwest Clinic spotlights the theme "In Honor of Our Mentors," and this is also the theme of the band's first concert at the conference on Dec. 19 at 8 a.m. The program will feature several small ensembles: a string quartet from the A.F. Strings, the Concert Band's trombone, percussion and saxophone sections, as well as an octet from the Concert Band. It will also highlight the talents of baritone vocalist, Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Park, from the Singing Sergeants. The full Ceremonial Brass will perform, as well.

The program will also include the world premiere of Master Sgt. John Bliss' "Blue Buleras." This concert will be conducted by Maj. Scott A. Guidry, the officer in charge (OIC) of the Ceremonial Brass; 1st Lt, Peter J. Folliard, the OIC of the Singing Sergeants; 2nd Lt. Shanti Simon Nolan, the OIC of the Concert Band; and the conductor emeritus of The U.S. Air Force Band, retired Col. Arnald D. Gabriel.

On Dec. 19 at 5:30 p.m., the program will feature violin soloist, Master Sgt. Mari Washington from the Air Force Strings, as well as the Ceremonial Brass and Concert Band. This concert will be conducted by the band's commander and conductor, Col. Larry H. Lang and one of Colonel Lang's mentors, Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser. It will also feature two world premieres: "Equipoise" by Master Sgt. Alan Baylock and "Asimov's Aviary" composed by Joel Puckett.

The final program, on Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m., will feature the saxophone section of the Concert Band, as well as the full Ceremonial Brass and Concert Band. Colonel Lang and Colonel Gabriel will conduct this concert. It will also feature the world premiere of Senior Master Sgt. Bob Thurston's "Time Travels."

The band is thrilled to be performing at this conference, not only because it's an important gathering of instrumental music teachers, students, composers, conductors, clinicians and publishers, but also because the theme goes hand-in-hand with a principle that is encouraged in the Air Force--mentoring.

Speaking about the conference, the Midwest Clinic president, Richard C. Crain said, "Every professional musician can point to 'those critically influential teachers' who always went the extra mile on our behalf: The mentor, a wise and trusted counselor or teacher, an influential senior sponsor and lifelong supporter." This could also be said for many Air Force members who have a supervisor or colleague that have assisted them along the way, he added.