The University Record, December 10, 1997

Alumni coming to town with Coast Guard Band

Alumni and U.S. Coast Guard Band members Gregory S. Wirt (above left) and Victor V. Johnson (above right) will perform with the band in a free concert Dec. 14 at Hill Auditorium. Photos courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

They're coming back to Ann Arbor to blow their own horns. Two alumni will appear at Hill Auditorium at 4 p.m. Dec. 14 with the U.S. Coast Guard Band. Trombonists Chief Musician Victor V. Johnson and Musician 1st Class Gregory S. Wirt will be a part of the free holiday concert sponsored by the School of Music and The Ann Arbor News.

Johnson, who hails from Westland and is a graduate of Wayne Memorial High School, attended the School of Music on a full academic scholarship, receiving a bachelor of music degree in 1975. Before joining the U.S. Coast Guard Band as principal trombone in 1978, Johnson taught instrumental music in the Charlotte, Michigan, public schools. Besides his duties with the Coast Guard Band, Johnson has performed as a member of that organization's Trombone Quartet; performs with the Eastern Connecticut, New Britain, and Waterbury symphonies; and is an adjunct instructor of music at Connecticut College.

Wirt is a graduate of Charlotte High School where he won the prestigious John Philip Sousa Award for his participation in the band program. He joined the U.S. Coast Guard Band in 1982, where his talents were put to good and immediate use by the Coast Guard Dixieland Band, the Masters of Swing and as a member of the trombone quartet. While at the U-M Wirt studied with H. Dennis Smith. Featured regularly as a soloist with the Coast Guard Band both in New London and on tour, Wirt also holds the position of principal trombone in the Eastern Connecticut Symphony and is a member of the Connecticut Brass.

Cmdr. Lewis J. Buckley will wield the baton for the free Dec. 14 concert. Col. Nikolai Ushapovsky, with whom a bond was formed when the Coast Guard Band became the first American military ensemble to perform in the Soviet Union, will be the guest conductor. Ushapovsky has programmed a selection of Russian music, including selections from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.