Byron native selected as Sailor of the Year for Navy Band Southwest
By Musician Third Class Benjamin Fodor
SAN DIEGO — A U.S. Navy Sailor from Byron, Illinois, assigned to Navy Band Southwest in San Diego was recently selected as the band’s Sailor of the Year for fiscal year 2014.
Musician 1st Class Jennifer Lange, a Byron, Illinois, native and graduate of Coe College, joined the Navy as a horn instrumentalist in August 2001. In addition to performing in the band’s marching and ceremonial bands, MU1 Lange is the band’s leading petty officer, ceremonial band assistant conductor, and one of the marching band’s drum majors. Lange also recently held positions as command career counselor and command fitness leader.
One of Navy Band Southwest’s primary responsibilities involves providing musical tours within the band’s seven-state area of responsibility. Several of the band’s primary performing units embark each year on concert tours throughout the southwest, allowing the band to reach out to audiences that do not have opportunities to see Navy ensembles on a regular basis. The concerts are family-friendly events, meant to be entertaining to audiences of all ages and cultural backgrounds, as well as geared toward attracting individuals interested in joining the Navy.
“Our band has the unique honor of bringing Navy awareness to audiences through our musical performances for the general public, as well as our educational outreach and recruiting initiatives in schools throughout the Southwest,” said Lt. Jane Hoffman, the director of Navy Band Southwest. “The men and women of Navy Band Southwest are true Naval Ambassadors for our Navy, and Petty Officer Jennifer Lange represents the ‘best of the best’ of our talented sailors.”
As part of some of the more well-traveled units in the band, Petty Officer Lange has made appearances with groups at Fleet Week in San Francisco as well as four major professional sports games in the Southwestern United States in the past year.
“I get to work with fantastic musicians in this program,” Lange said. “They are outstanding people and very talented artists. It’s a unique opportunity to work with people who have such a high degree of skill. Another one of my favorite parts of being in the band is working with the community by performing and spreading the word about the Navy and Navy Music. People are delighted to hear us every time. It tells me that every time we go out there, even if it’s something we do every day, it’s making a huge impact on others.”
To be selected for the Navy Music Program, Lange went through a live audition process that involved showcasing her technique, musicality and versatility.
“I started playing in sixth grade,” she said. “When I was a kid, my dad made me a cassette tape of Tchaikovsky, and when I listened to it, I thought the French horn really stood out, and I thought the sound was beautiful. When I saw it and realized that that instrument was making the sound that I loved so much, I knew that I was going to play it. I had great music teachers in school that encouraged me and helped me to not only grow as a musician, but also helped me to learn how to express myself and how to communicate.
“One of the highlights of my career has been the positive impact I’ve made on other sailors who needed direction and inspiration, or just guidance in their lives,” Lange added. “I’ve worked with sailors who didn’t really have a lot of direction and they were getting negative peer influence. I feel that I’ve helped some people to get on board with our mission and find out what a Navy career can do for them. I’ve also had the opportunity to do some major performances, when the band was televised or broadcasted on the radio, and it’s been very exciting to represent the Navy on such a large scale.”
Before reporting to San Diego in August 2012, Lange’s past duty stations included San Diego; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Little Creek, Virginia; and Great Lakes, Illinois.
Posted Dec. 18, 2014