PLAINVIEW -- The U. S. Naval Academy Band will record "Oldest and Finest," a march composed by Dr. Gary Belshaw, Wayland Baptist University Assistant Professor of Piano Pedagogy. The recording of the march will be included in a planned 4 CD set commemorating the 150 th Anniversary of the Academy Band. Lieutenant Commander Donald H. Keller, leader of the U. S. Naval Academy Band, requested permission to use the piece.
The march was composed during the summer of 2002. The idea for the march originated during a visit with members of the band after a performance of Belshaw's doctoral dissertation, "Wind Sculptures" for trombone and band. That performance in May 2002 featured Don Lucas, Professor of Trombone at Texas Tech University, and the U. S Naval Academy Band.
"Some of the band members and I were dining after the performance, and they told me the band was coming up on its 150 th anniversary. The march is dedicated to the band in honor of its Sesquicentennial Anniversary," Belshaw said.
"Writing a march is one of those wonderful challenges every composer must face at one point or another. And it was John Phillip Sousa who set the standard. He said that a march 'must be as free from padding as a marble statue.' That's a pretty tough standard. In literary terms, it means there can be no snow job."
The U. S. Naval Academy Band premiered the march during its Gala 150 th Anniversary Concert on May 9, 2003. Belshaw was unable to attend the performance as he and the rest of the Wayland Music Department were preparing for a mission trip to Spain. During the trip, members of the Wayland Pioneer Band, International Choir and Wayland Singers performed three movements from "A España" by Belshaw. The three movements feature scripture verses in Spanish set to music.
In addition to "Wind Sculptures" for trombone and band, and "Oldest and Finest," members of the U.S. Naval Academy Band's trombone quartet premiered yet another Belshaw composition, "At A Lake" for solo trombone and trombone quartet. The quartet was premiered at the convention of the Texas Bandmaster's Association in San Antonio during the summer of 2002.
"It has been a real honor just to have my music played by such a distinguished group of professionals," Belshaw said.
The Academy band provided Belshaw with a recording of the live performance of the march.
"The recording of the march sounded amazing," he said. "The band plays with such incredible precision and skill, that I heard the best possible rendition of my music imaginable."
Belshaw is in his fourth year at Wayland Baptist University. He received his Ph.D. in Fine Arts from Texas Tech University in August 2000. He teaches private and class piano, orchestration, piano pedagogy, and he accompanies both students and faculty in recital. He also teaches private piano through the University's Academy of Fine Arts.