Cpl. Anthony Sutton admits he doesn’t know how to ride a horse but he has become an expert at using his trumpet to make the sound of a horse.
Sutton will be making that familiar sound when the 2nd Marine Aircraft Band performs its annual Christmas concert Friday at the base theater.
Sutton’s big moment comes at the end of the holiday classic "Sleigh Ride."
"As soon as I learned how to do it, it just kind of came. It’s not too hard," Sutton said last week during one of the band’s rehearsals.
"Basically I half valve the trumpet instead of pressing the valves all the way down. I blow a stream of fast air through so that I can get that nice horse sound and get that shake."
Lance Cpl. David Shearin, a percussionist, has nearly enough pressure in that he will be producing the sound of the horse whip during the piece.
"My part will be the whip crack, which everyone should know," Shearin said. "I play six different notes in the piece. Only six. They’re all equally important and it is probably the most crucial part of the piece.
"It’s literally two slabs of two-by-four and you just hit it together. It’s got two handles on the end and about an inch cutout circle to create the air sound that you need. And you just hit it as hard as you can. The first year I did it somebody who was in charge of me told me to hit it as hard as I could and I did it."
Cpl. Osman Farooq Chaudhry, another percussionist, reinforces the tempo with his sleigh bells. He has been in the 2nd MAW Band for nearly three years and this will be his third Christmas concert in which he jingles the bells.
"It’s my favorite part," Chaudhry said. "When you play ‘Sleigh Ride,’ you need sleigh bells. It simply adds character to the piece. It says Christmas. It says merry music, I guess. You’ll definitely hear sleigh bells and chimes going through many different pieces throughout the concert."
Staff Sgt. Terri Kopetzki, a clarinetist, will be along for the sleigh ride, but will be stepping out front as a singer for "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year."
"It’s always fun for us to get out and see the public and be ambassadors for the Marine Corps, but it’s always fun for us to come back to the place where our biggest supporters are," said Kopetzki, who is also a spokesman for the band. "This is who keeps us here, the people of this community, the people of this base. They are our supporters. They are the reason why we still exist. It’s exciting to give something back to this community as they are always giving to us."
Not only will the 50-member concert band be performing, but the popular 10-member show band will have time on the stage at the event.
"They do more of the rock tunes. We have a couple of Chicago tunes that we’ll be playing for the concert," said Kopetzki, who will also be singing in the smaller group. " … It’s fun. A lot of people enjoy it. They are more popular tunes — songs from the radio, the hits that people like to listen to."
Because of the date of the concert, the band will touch briefly with a musical recognition of a day that will live in infamy.
"If we don’t touch that anniversary of Pearl Harbor, we’re not doing our service," Kopetzki said. "It will be a tribute piece for all service members."
Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin Bartholomew, who led the band for three years, is returning to Cherry Point after leading the Marine band at Quantico, Va. He said the band was ready to put on a good show.
"Everybody loves a Christmas concert and everybody loves Christmas music so as is typical with most of our concerts we’re going to try to give a bit of something for everybody in the audience," he said. "Our goal is to get anyone who perhaps wasn’t into the Christmas spirit when they come in the door, they will definitely be in the Christmas spirit when they leave."
The concert is free and open to the public. It starts at 7 p.m. and the doors open at 6 p.m. There is no assigned seating. Donations for Toys for Tots will be accepted.