Sgt. Donald "Taylor" Criswell
Sgt. Donald "Taylor" Criswell, senior instrumentalist in the Army Materiel Command band, conducts for a "Concert on the Quad" series at headquarters AMC May 29. U.S. Army Photo.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- A U.S. Army Materiel Command band member was chosen to join the commissioned officer ranks.

Sgt. Donald "Taylor" Criswell, senior instrumentalist, was selected to attend Officer Candidate School to become a commissioned officer after successfully completing the audition and interview. He now has the opportunity to command a large or special band.

Annually, the Army Band program selects one or two highly qualified Soldiers or civilians worldwide via competitive auditions to serve as Army Bands Officers.

However, for the past two years, no selections were made.

Army Band Officers rotate through a variety of positions including: associate conductor, administrator, and instructor at the Army School of Music. They may also serve as commander and principle conductor of an Army band. The Band Corp only has 20-25 commissioned officers.

"There are currently no second lieutenants in the Army Band Corp," Criswell said.

To become commissioned officers, applicants not only complete OCS packets, but audition for the Band Corp as well.

Prior to leaving Training and Doctrine Command and en route to AMC, Criswell submitted an audition tape to Army School of Music in Virginia Beach and his tape was chosen among four others to compete in the live round.

"I showed up at the right time," said Criswell of his arrival to the AMC Band.

With the band being between commanders, they [the band] gave me the opportunity to conduct and a lot of time to prepare for the audition, explained Criswell.

"The audition was in front of the Army Field Band in Washington, DC; it's a 70 piece band and they are literally some of the best musicians in the world," Criswell said as he explained the magnitude of the audition. "This is arguably the best concert band in the world."

While conducting, a panel of senior officers reviewed the performance. The panel included: the commander of the U.S. Army Band; commander of the Army Field Band; and commander of the West Point Band and the commandant of the Army School of Music.

"I knew going in that I was well prepared," Criswell stated. "I did really well on the interview and I felt like I nailed the chorus portion."

Criswell hoped that having a diverse background and strong speaking skills would increase his chances of selection.

"I felt like I had a good chance, but I didn't know," he admitted.

Criswell received the notification that he was selected the same afternoon.

"I was thrilled, very excited and honored to be selected," Criswell said. "It really didn't sink in until after the concert here two weeks ago. I had something else to focus on at the time. I still had a job to do [at Redstone Arsenal]."

What's next for Criswell?

"I'll go to Officer Candidate School in the fall or next year. And I'd like to go to Germany one day," Criswell said.

After Officer Candidate School, Criswell will serve as an executive officer or associate conductor at an Army band.

Page last updated Thu June 6th, 2013 at 00:00