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Drumline Plays 'A Capitol Fourth'

Westfield High students perform with Jason Alexander of 'Seinfeld.'

The line up of drummers representing Westfield High School featured Spencer Arthur, Josh Erney, Brian Falatko, Robert Gilbert, Trevin Frame and Morrison Mast on snare drums; Seth Goldstein, Travis Hughlett, Phil Karstetter and Marcus Kusano on tenors; Mary Best, Thomas Martin, Renee Reopell and Michael Ziegler on bass drums.

<bt>Some 14 members of the Westfield High School Drumline marched in cadence onto the main stage at the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol to open this year's National Independence Day Celebration, "A Capitol Fourth", hosted by "Seinfield's" Jason Alexander. The actor wished to perform with a local drumline for his opening number, which was assembled in a matter of days by the director of the Percussion Ensemble at Westfield, John Kilkenny. This internationally televised show is an annual musical celebration of the nation's birthday that featured this year the National Symphony Orchestra on its 75th anniversary, a special tribute to rock hall of fame member Stevie Wonder and performances by Vanessa Williams, Michael Bolton, Jo Dee Messina, Jo Jo and Sesame Street star puppet, Elmo.

THE PRODUCTION team for the show contacted Dr. Richmond Sparks, director of Bands at the University of Maryland, who offered the use of the instruments and uniforms, and recruited the expertise of Sean Haleem, graduate assistant for percussion at UMD, Aubrey Adams, director of the drumline at UMD, and John Kilkenny, who is among other things, the co-director of the Annual Percussion Seminar at UMD, to serve as instructors. The "Washington All-Star Drumline," as it was ultimately named, also included the talent of three percussionists from UMD, six from Herndon High School, one from Oakton High and one from Langley High.

Time was a factor, as the music for the cadence needed to be specifically tailored to meet the needs of the show and the level of playing of Mr. Alexander, who as a high school student marched the tenor drums. On the morning of Saturday, July 1st, the percussionists and the instructors met with Mr. Alexander for the first time on the West Lawn of the Capitol for a few hours of drill exercises. That same evening the score for each section was written and finally e-mailed to everyone at 1:39 a.m. to have ready for that morning's rehearsal.

The final line up of drummers representing Westfield High School featured Spencer Arthur, Josh Erney, Brian Falatko, Robert Gilbert, Trevin Frame and Morrison Mast on snare drums; Seth Goldstein, Travis Hughlett, Phil Karstetter and Marcus Kusano on tenors; Mary Best, Thomas Martin, Renee Reopell and Michael Ziegler on bass drums. The audience present on the lawn, which was 400,000 for the dress rehearsal on July 3, and 500,000 for the live event on the 4th, spontaneously broke into loud applause and cheers as the drummers made their entrance during the opening dancing number and as they marched off the stage while the show rolled on in the background.

THE FULL impact of playing for a national audience of millions live and on TV, which included all branches of the Armed Forces serving the country abroad on this 230th national birthday, was not felt instantly by all members of the drumline.

Snare player, Morrison Mast, said after the performance, "Maybe when I watch it on TiVo it will sink in that we're sharing the stage with musicians like Stevie Wonder; but when it was happening, all I allowed myself to do was to pay attention to my director and not think about how big this moment was for us all."