OompahI take great exception to Stephen Hunter's...


January 07, 1993


I take great exception to Stephen Hunter's pejorative comments about military music in his review of "A Few Good Men."

His reference to military music as "loud, showy, entertaining and utterly trivial" proves he has stepped outside his area of expertise and is speaking from ignorance.

Perhaps what Mr. Hunter had in mind was a military marchin band. It is true that without an auditorium or a band shell to project the sound a marching band must be loud in order to be heard at all.

If immaculate uniforms and marching in step are showy, then one might call marching bands showy. And, of course, every band expects to be entertaining. However, neither marching bands nor any other military band can be called trivial.

Marching band music may perhaps be rhythmically simple, but these bands are called upon to help us recognize and celebrate our deepest emotions and most solemn and momentous events. They do not deserve his insults.

What seems to have escaped Mr. Hunter's attention completely is that military music is not merely marching band music.

The Naval Academy Band has a 50-piece Wind Ensemble that performs orchestral transcriptions such as the "William Tell Overture." The Wind Ensemble also performs music composed for wind bands such as the very expressive and challenging "Lord of the Rings" symphony, which in 1989 won the Sudler Award.

The music cannot be called trivial. It is true that the Wind Ensemble also performs popular songs, show tunes and movie themes.

This is not a trivialization, but rather a tribute to the versatility of the ensemble and an affirmation of the fact that we do, indeed, intend to be entertaining.

In addition to the Wind Ensemble, the Naval Academy Band haa rock group called Electric Brigade, which performs "Top 40" hits for Christmas parties, military balls and midshipmen dances.

These musicians also are of the highest caliber and versatility, since musicians may be required to move from the Electric Brigade to the Wind Ensemble or vice versa.

We also boast a jazz ensemble that plays the finest big band jazz and superb brass and woodwind quintets.

Cmdr. Michael Burch-Pesses


The writer directs the Naval Academy Band.


I refer to the article in Dec. 23 edition of The Sun about the cancellation of the Santa Claus visit to Chatsworth School because the principal, Sue Ockun, found "one person offended by what they saw as a religious figure."

Ms. Ockun says, "We try to teach all our children to be tolerant . . ." Ms. Ockun should practice what she preaches. Where is her tolerance for the majority?

Come on, Sue Ockun. Why should a celebration be canceled because one person was offended?

NB And what about me? I am offended by your inappropriate action.

Theodore C. Moore


Cisneros and Clinton Are Not Enough

Neal Peirce's Dec. 28 Opinion * Commentary piece about Henry Cisneros, the Housing and Urban Development secretary-to-be, being the fresh hope for our inner city neighborhoods seems to reflect the almost euphoric attitude of inner city America toward the coming of the Clinton presidency and Mr. Cisneros. Unfortunately, euphoria is rarely reality, and Mr. Peirce's commentary is no different.

I do not want to take away from Mr. Cisneros' past achievements and personal qualifications, as they are quite good and speak for themselves.

And as an inner city homeowner, I would like to see Mr. Cisneros do great things for Baltimore and other American cities. But we must look at his coming and the Washington environment from a realistic viewpoint if we hope to improve our situation in Baltimore. This realism involves looking at the way things are at the national, state and local levels.

In today's political arena, the president has become largely a policy figurehead and does not really possess a lot of real power when it comes to funding.

The right to spend tax dollars, and all the power which that implies, lies with the small handful of senators and representatives sitting atop the congressional spending committees.

Mr. Cisneros has to become a political ally of these wolves in sheep's clothing, without compromising the integrity of his new goals.

While this is far from guaranteed, he is lost without at least some sort of alliance because he will have no source of money. And if he sacrifices his goals to get more money, then our cities could be worse off than before.

Assuming Mr. Cisneros gains a satisfactory level of funding to attempt to achieve his goals, Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Mayor Kurt Schmoke must then be able to convince Mr. Cisneros that Maryland and Baltimore are deserving of their fair share (or better) of this money.

Unfortunately, it is no secret that the governor supported the loser in the presidential election. The one good angle working for Baltimore is that the mayor, the president-elect, and Mr. Cisneros are at least political relatives, if not allies. But the other two areas need a lot of work.

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