The 63rd Army Band has a new bandmaster its first female leader.
Warrant Officer Durinda Roth, who, in the mid-80's, wore civilian clothes and marched in the ranks, now marches front-and-center as the 63rd Army bandmaster.
It all started in 1984 when Roth was attending college and her stepfather, Sgt. 1st Class Jay Hauenstein, was playing with the 63rd. Roth, who had been playing the flute, oboe, organ, and piano since the third grade, thought it would be fun to join her stepdad as an oboist.
After graduation, she joined the 276th Army Band, a Pennsylvania National Guard unit based in Philadelphia in 1989. Five years later she moved to the 63rd.
Two promotions later, Roth heard that Bandmaster Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jim Manzo was retiring. i.A number of the band members came to me and said, "Why don't you do it?" And I did," stated Roth. "This is what happens if you have a dream."
Roth steps into a high profile position in a very successful band, which has played such venues as the United Nations, the New York Stock Exchange and recently at the National Guard Association of the United States national conference in Atlantic City. The 63rd Army Band can perform as a stage/dance band, a combo band iathat will play anything from Dixie to Top 40,le a brass group, a woodwind quintet, a chorus, a traditional concert, woodwind, and a marching band.
Success always breeds success, and the band has gathered a group of extremely talented musicians. "Ninety percent of the people are losing money by coming here," said Roth. "But they do it because of their love of the military and their love of playing."
One of the great challenges of any Army band is balancing soldiering skills with musical skills. "Mr. Manzo is the one who led the band to where it is now," noted Roth. "He set very high standards for the band, and I wanted to make sure the standards remained." One of her goals is to sustain the squared-away military bearing Mr. Manzo inspired.
"I wanted to make sure the military end continued because we have many fine musicians here," explained Roth. "Band members are special because we have to pass the common task test (CTT), and maintain our other soldier skills. That's been a challenge because we're in such demand."
"On a two-hour drive to a concert we will actually do CTT training on the bus," said Roth. "In the band, they all get here for drill and know just what to do when they hit the floor. Any free moment we can get, if it's a rehearsal day, we'll pull out the manual."
Roth, a full-time special education teacher at Crockett Middle School in Hamilton, also works at the Philadelphia College of Bible and volunteers her talent in various area churches. In addition, she serves as assistant conductor of the Hamilton Square Presbyterian Church band.