Leader of local band to perform overseas

Michael Holahan/Staff
Retired Army Col. Gary Lamb has recently taken over as director of the Aiken Community Band. He and other musicians will travel to China next month.

AIKEN --- He has conducted performances for Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, both Bushes and Clinton.


The former leader of the U.S. Army Band, Pershing's Own, has also directed music overseas.

Lately, retired Army Col. Gary Lamb has been using his talents in Aiken, where he retired in 2005 and took the helm of the Aiken Community Band about six months ago.

Next month, he'll fly to China with friends and fellow musicians as a guest conductor.

"I'm really looking forward to this," he said of the visit, which will include stops in Beijing, Chengdu and Kunming.

Mr. Lamb said his visit comes at the request of a friend whose wind ensemble in Rock Hill, S.C., received an invitation to perform in the Chinese cities.

He'll leave June 18 for a visit that will involve logistical work for another trip at the end of the year.

Those performances will include a New Year's Eve concert in Chengdu, which he said will be "historic in that it's the first time that a foreign musical organization has performed the New Year's Eve concert in that city. They've always had Chinese orchestras."

Mr. Lamb said he and two friends -- his Rock Hill friend Bill Malambri, a Winthrop University music professor, and Joe Hermann, the president of the American Bandmaster Association -- also have been asked to conduct with the Peoples Liberation Army Band in Beijing.

Although it will be his first trip to China, concert performances overseas are nothing new to Mr. Lamb, who, according to the U.S. Army Band's official Web site, was the first U.S. military band officer invited to conduct the Ministry of Defense Orchestra of the Federation of Russia, in 1998.

The retired colonel led Pershing's Own for both inaugural parades of President George W. Bush and for the state funeral of President Reagan. And soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he was involved in a Pentagon ceremony honoring those who died.

After retiring, he and his wife decided to move to Aiken at the urging of a friend in the area. He said he has come to love Aiken and the community band he heads up.

His bandmates are just as happy to have him.

"It means a lot. For one thing, a lot of the musical community knows him," said Ed Hallinan, a past president and current member of the Aiken Community Band.

Mr. Lamb said he's now looking to grow the Aiken band.

"We just want to grow everywhere in that group," he said.

Mr. Lamb said anyone interested in joining his band can call him at (803) 644-4095.

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.


The Aiken Community Band will next perform Aug. 31 at Hopelands Gardens.