ALBANY — Sailors are known to sing, and we’re not just talking about Maverick and Goose in 1984’s “Top Gun.”
The “Sea Chanters”, the official chorus of the United States Navy from Washington, D.C., will present a free concert at the Palace Theatre, Monday, April 11 at 7:00 p.m. The twenty-voice chorus, accompanied by a three-piece rhythm section, will perform a variety of styles ranging from patriotic selections to Broadway showstoppers.
“We take a great deal of pride in what we do,” said U.S. Navy Chief Musician Melissa Bishop. “We really try to be the embodiment of sailors around the world. This is what sailors do everyday, 24 hours a day, around the globe.”
The Navy Band Sea Chanters is the United States Navy’s official chorus. The ensemble performs a variety of music ranging from traditional choral music, including sea chanteys and patriotic fare, to opera, Broadway, and contemporary music. Under the leadership of Chief Musician Adam Tyler, the Sea Chanters perform for the public throughout the United States.
“We’re ambassadors for the Navy,” said Bishop. “We’re the public face of the Navy before a lot of places around the country that don’t have a lot of contact with sailors on a regular basis. We bring the Navy to lots of different places as we go on our National Tour.”
At home in Washington, they perform for the president, vice president and numerous congressional, military and foreign dignitaries.
In 1956, Lt. Harold Fultz, then the band’s assistant leader, organized a group from the Navy School of Music to sing chanteys and patriotic songs for the State of the Nation dinner. An immediate success, Adm. Arleigh Burke, then chief of naval operations, transferred them to the Navy Band, named them the Sea Chanters and tasked this all-male chorus with perpetuating the songs of the sea. In 1980, the group added women to their ranks and expanded their repertoire to include everything from Brahms to Broadway.
Over the years, the Sea Chanters has been present to honor the lives of former presidents Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon at each of their respective funerals, as well as for the interment of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Television audiences may recall its rousing rendition of “Amazing Grace” for the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance at the National Cathedral after the September 11 attacks. The troupe also appears at the Kennedy Center Honors and with the National Symphony Orchestra for the broadcast of the “National Memorial Day Concerts” at the U.S. Capitol.
The ensemble is also known to perform in less official environments, said Bishop. When asked if she meant Tom Cruise, the Chief Musician laughed and said no. “There are occasions when we get to perform and sing with well known singers. … It’s fun for us to show the professionalism of the Navy.”
In addition to performing with different orchestras, the Sea Chanters performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2008. Over the years, the troupe has shared the stage with popular artists Perry Como, Marian Anderson, Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie.
“I think the Sea Chanters are a phenomenal chorus. They are very dynamic. I’m inspired every time I hear them sing. Hands down, they are the best chorus I’ve ever heard.”
Free general admission tickets are available in advance in person at the Palace Theatre Box Office – located at 19 Clinton Ave. Tickets are also available at all Ballston Spa National Bank branch offices (while supplies last) – see bsnb.com for branch locations. Any unclaimed seats will be available at the door to non-ticket holders just prior to concert time. For more information, call the Palace Theatre at 518-465-3335 during regular business hours.