By Mrs. Melissa Buckley (Leonard Wood)June 11, 2015
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (June 11, 2015) -- A Fort Leonard Wood quartet's performance resonated so well with U.S. Army Music that the 399th Army Band ensemble won the 2015 Music Performance Team of the Year award, and two band members were runners up in individual categories.
"This is the first time a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command band has won this award. So, it's extra exciting for us," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Richard Chapman, 399th Army Band commander.
"This is also the first time that a contiguous United States band, of our size, has won the overall award. Since much of the competition is based on popular vote of the 8,000 active, guard, Reserve and retired Army musicians, it is very hard for the smaller bands to compete against the larger ones," the Columbus, Ohio, native explained.
The Fort Leonard Wood Soldier musicians that form the winning group, "Icarus Saxophone Quartet" are Spcs. Kevin Arbogast from Bowling Green, Kentucky and Devin Thomas from Woodbridge, Virginia, and Sgts. Kevin Lomonof from Oak Lawn, Illinois and Nikki Lomonof from Logan, West Virginia.
They have only been performing together since January.
"It was extra impressive that they were able to come together at this high level. They are mostly used as public outreach. In fact, most of the audio and video footage we used in their entry was from performances at local universities," Chapman said.
"These four Soldiers came to me after Christmas and told me that they had an idea for an unconventional group and wanted to see what I thought. They had an exceedingly strong plan of action and vision for this group, so we decided to make them a full music performance team and see what they could do. I think it's an understatement to say that they have been successful," he added.
The Music Performance Team of the Year competition was started in 2011 as a way for each band to showcase the best small performance groups in their unit.
This competition is held during the second quarter of the fiscal year. Groups submit video samples of live performances.
"Since our field is so spread apart, it gave us a way to share ideas and best practices across the field," Chapman said.
Adding to the unit's accolades, Sgt. Jacob Adelman was the runner-up for Army Music Soldier of the Year, and Cumberland, Kentucky, native, Staff Sgt. Michael Joseph was the runner-up for Army Music Junior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Not bad for a band of 38 musicians, compared to the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" a special band that has about 240 musicians or the U.S. Army Europe Band that has approximately 60 to 80 musicians.
"These Soldiers amaze me every day. It's an honor to have the opportunity to lead such quality Soldiers who are so dedicated to strengthening our Army and building their Soldier skills," Chapman said.
Adelman said he went into the U.S. Army Music competition with little knowledge about the event, but previous challenges on Fort Leonard Wood helped prepare him to be tested.
"The battalion quarter board and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence first-quarter Best Warrior competition helped light a fire under me. The work I did to study for those boards inspires me to improve myself daily," said Adelman, a Camden, South Carolina, native.
Chapman said the awards are reinforcement of something that he has always believed.
"There is high quality musicianship, no matter where you go in the Army Music system. Fort Leonard Wood is certainly turning into a premier assignment for musical excellence," Chapman said.
Chapman said it is humbling to have been honored so many times in the last year.
"Starting with Staff Sgt. Joseph being crowned the Operation: Rising Star winner, to these other honors of Music Performance Team of Year and runners-up for Soldier and Junior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, there has been a lot of movement to make Fort Leonard Wood and the 399th Army Band one of the top assignments in the Army Music field."
To watch a video of the winning quartet, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv2RvVMC3yg.
For more information about serving through music, visit www.music.army.mil or call the 399th Army Band at 573.596.0131, ext. 61360.