Who out there knows what conscription is? Now, how many of you know what sort of impact conscription had on the US orchestra field? My guess is not very many of you raised your hand and among those who did, you’re probably over age 58. Okay, the rest of you can go ahead and Google it, then come back. [Before they return, let me say that you’re one of the lucky ones for already knowing]…
Now that we’re all back and everyone understands that conscription in the US is the same thing as “the draft” and that up until it ended in 1973 it had as much, if not more, impact on aspiring and emerging orchestra musicians as inadequate career preparation has today.
While attending a Music of the Baroque (MOB) concert earlier this week, I ran into former MOB concertmaster Elliott Golub backstage and the combination of that plus Veteran’s Day made me realize that it was high time bring this topic up. The reason why Elliott got me thinking is because he served as the concertmaster of the 7th Army Symphony in 1957 and 1958.
There’s a reason why you need to know about the 7th Army Symphony but I’m not going to tell you. At least, not right now. Instead, I’m sending out a call to every orchestra musician and manager (retired or active) that served in a US Armed Forces band or orchestra to write in and describe how conscription and US Armed Forces bands and orchestras influenced your career.
This particular topic has been a passion of mine for decades and it never ceases to amaze me how many incredible careers were influenced (and in some cases launched) by conscription yet how little anyone under age 58 know about it. Simply put, it would be a shame for all of this to become a faint historical footnote.
We’re at a unique period of history where we’re starting to lose many of those with personal stories to tell so I’m hoping this will be the impetus of something much larger. So if you or someone you know has something to contribute, encourage them to leave a comment, send me an email, or even get in touch through Facebook and let’s see where this can go.