A \Chants Encounter

The U.S. Navy Sea Chanters Chorus sang at President Barack Obama's inauguration. It frequently performs at events around the Washington, D.C., area. Members have taken part in several 9/11 remembrance ceremonies and performed the national anthem at sporting events across the country.

Right now, the chorus is in the midst of a national tour, which will stop at the Palace Theatre in Albany for a free show on Saturday, April 2, at 3 p.m. Everyone is invited to come see a side of the Navy that's less common than the shipyards and bases typically associated with this branch of the military.

It's designed to expose the Navy to areas where the Navy doesn't exist, said Adam Grimm, the public relations coordinator for the Navy Band.

The chorus was formed in1956, when Lt. Harold Fultz put together students from the Navy School of Music to sing at the State of the Nation dinner. The group was so well-received that it was added to the Navy Band and named the Sea Chanters, with the idea it would sing the songs of the sea.

Traditional Navy and maritime tunes are still part of the chorus's repertoire, but its scope has greatly broadened. For one thing, women have been part of the chorus since 1980. They've been joined by a few musicians who don't just sing " the chorus now includes a drummer, a pianist and a bass player. And the music that members both male and female sing now includes everything from opera numbers to Broadway show tunes.

"It kind of runs the whole gamut," Grimm said.

The same can be said of the Navy Band as a whole. The band is actually made up of several ensembles. There's a concert band and a ceremonial band. There's a jazz group called the Commodores and a country-bluegrass group called the Country Current. The Cruisers are billed as the Navy's "premier contemporary entertainment ensemble," and there are eight chamber music ensembles.

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