The U.S. Air Force Band of the West will be in concert March 25 at the Augusta University Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Center. Courtesy photo
The U.S. Air Force Band of the West will be in concert March 25 at the Augusta University Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Center. Courtesy photo

Air Force band to present free Augusta concert March 25

Military service members often have more than one career in their lifetimes, but the military portion usually comes first.

About 15 months ago at the age of 37, Second Lt. Jay Sconyers embarked on his second career – joining the Air Force as the conductor of the U.S. Air Force Band of the West, which will present a free concert at 7 p.m. Monday, March 25 at Augusta University’s Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Center. A ticket is required for entry. Go here to reserve one.

Second Lt. Jay Sconyers, U.S. Air Force Band of the West conductor. Courtesy photo

“This was the dream career,” said Sconyers, a native of nearby Swainsboro, Ga., who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia and his doctorate from the University of South Carolina.

Sconyers served as the band director at Elbert High School and as Director of Bands and Assistant Director of Bands at McNeese State University before deciding to fulfill his dream of joining the military.

A third-generation service member, Sconyers played the trumpet before trading it in for a baton. He was drawn to the instrument because something about it reminded him of the military.

Playing in Augusta is a homecoming of sorts, he said.

“When we would go to town on the weekends. It was either to Augusta or Savannah. I feel like an adopted child of Augusta,” he said.

 Sconyers isn’t the only one in the 61-member unit who has ties to Augusta.

Airman First Class Emily Lloyd is an Augusta native and another former member of Georgia’s Redcoat Marching Band. The flutist and former music therapist also holds a doctorate.

Sconyers said the band will play a variety of music that tells the story of being in the Air Force. It features song such as “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana.”

 “It’s about loving home but getting out to see the world,” he said.

“Savannah River Holiday” will feature Lloyd’s flute solo.

There are pieces by Henry Jackman, who wrote music for ”Wreck It  Ralph” “Kong” and “Captain America.” Those songs look upward, Sconyers said, similar to the Air Force and its pilots.

And it wouldn’t be a military concert without a few traditional patriotic melodies such as “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Airman First Class Emily Lloyd is an Augusta native. Courtesy photo

Sconyers said the USAF  Band of the West is one of 11 Air Force Bands, and they are comprised of an elite group of musicians.

“Of those 61 members, almost 100% have bachelor’s degrees in music; about 40 to 60%  have master’s degrees and a half dozen have doctorates,” he said.

 Unlike others who join the Air Force and go to a technical school to learn the mission, band members are “mission-ready from Day One,” Sconyers said.

 The band celebrates “Music in Our Schools Month. For nearly 40 years, March has been officially designated as the time to celebrate music education and its role in our nation,” according to a news release.

Based at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, the USAF Band of the West travels more than 125,000 miles annually to play concerts in the Southeastern United States and Puerto Rico.

Other stops on this tour include Theatre Dublin in Dublin, Ga. at 7 p.m. March 22; Georgia Southern University Performing Arts Center, Statesboro, Ga., at 7 p.m. March 23, East Georgia State College, Swainsboro, at 3 p.m. March 24 and Roswell High School, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 26.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at charmain@augustagoodnews.com. Sign up for the newsletter here.

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