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Sax and stripes forever

Rotterdam native has ‘dream job’ with Army Field Band, performs at All-American Bowl

Sgt. 1st Class Brian Sacawa on Wednesday, Jan. 2, demonstrates a piece of music for the U.S. Army All-American Band at Benson Stadium in San Antonio. Sacawa was the woodwind conductor for the U.S. Army All-American Band.

Sgt. 1st Class Brian Sacawa on Wednesday, Jan. 2, demonstrates a piece of music for the U.S. Army All-American Band at Benson Stadium in San Antonio. Sacawa was the woodwind conductor for the U.S. Army All-American Band. Submitted photo by Pfc. Victor Blanco

Not many eleventh-grade students are likely to find a career path that works out, but one Schalmont student already had his future finely tuned.

Brian Sacawa, a 35-year-old Rotterdam native, started playing the saxophone in fourth grade and hasn’t really stopped the music since. Today, he’s a member of the U.S. Army Field Band and tours the country and world. It’s a journey that started in the fourth grade but has grown into a lifelong passion.

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“I had a friend that played the saxophone and I thought he was pretty cool,” Sacawa said. “I was just drawn to the saxophone and music for some reason, it is really hard to describe. I always sort of knew this was something that I wanted to do … and I was definitely leaning to the performance side of things.”

He took lessons and after graduating high school, continued his studies and earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. By then, he was well on his way to career success. As a freshman, Sacawa found a magazine article on the U.S. Army Field Band that described how performing in the elite band could be a career option.

“I ripped that article out, even though that wasn’t my magazine, and I kept it to this day,” he said. “To be a performing saxophonist, to me, seemed to be a really great option.”

Right before graduating from UMass Amherst, he auditioned for the band he read about several semesters earlier. That’s when he landed his “dream job” right out of college. Sacawa was a saxophonist in the Army Field Band from Washington, D.C., for three years before leaving in 2002 to continue his studies at the University of Michigan.

“Here I am in my dream job and I decided to leave,” he said.

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