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Kenneth Pressure, the ‘Toscanini of Navy Marching Bands,’ Dies at 83

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Kenneth Pressure, who because the chief of the Service provider Marine Academy Regimental Band from 1971 to 2016 was one of many nation’s foremost consultants within the artwork of navy pomp, died on Oct. 7 in Rye, N.Y. He was 83.

A former pupil of his, Marianne Lepre, stated the demise, at a long-term nursing facility, was attributable to respiratory failure introduced on by persistent obstructive pulmonary illness.

Navy music arose traditionally as a way of speaking orders to troops, but it surely has lengthy since develop into a ceremonial customized, with trumpet-tooting and drum-rolling tunes like “Hail to the Chief” and “The Red, White and Blue.”

A navy man would possibly say that Captain Pressure exerted full-spectrum dominance over this territory.

At one time or one other, he carried out the U.S. Marine Corps Band, which performs for the president; the band of the Black Watch, a Scottish infantry battalion; the bands, in Britain, of Her Majesty’s Grenadier Guards, Welsh Guards and Royal Marines; and the Dutch Royal Navy Band.

He carried out at 10 presidential inaugurations, from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s to George W. Bush’s.

“It’s not going anybody is preserving rating,” Peter Applebome of The New York Occasions wrote in an Our Cities column in 2009, “however there can’t be too many individuals who’ve participated in additional inaugurations than Captain Pressure, now 68 and one thing of a Toscanini of navy marching bands.”

He earned that distinction principally as director of music on the Service provider Marine Academy at Kings Level, N.Y., on Lengthy Island. His band members weren’t aspiring musicians; they have been midshipmen coaching to obtain Bachelor of Science levels, U.S. Coast Guard licenses and officers’ commissions. At inaugurations, the scholar musicians bought to play whereas marching previous a presidential reviewing stand.

“I at all times inform the midshipmen that you’ll always remember the reminiscence of passing the president of the USA,” ” Captain Pressure advised The Occasions.

At every inauguration, his band blared the traditional Nineteenth-century tune of the marines, “A Life on the Ocean Wave.”

“What we do doesn’t change,” he stated. “In some ways we’re a strolling museum, one thing from one other age.”

Captain Pressure saved custom alive in a number of methods. He rearranged previous band tunes for contemporary devices — work he in comparison with repairing antiques — and he composed new political homages, together with “First Woman March” and “Presidential Pets March” (which incorporates barks and meows).

He and his band have been wanted by organizers of nice American occasions. They performed at Miss America pageant parades, atop the Brooklyn Bridge for its one centesimal anniversary, on the sector throughout World Sequence, on the courts of the U.S. Open after 9/11, and aboard the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2 when it carried World Warfare II veterans to Normandy in 1994 for the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day.

In 1989, The Occasions credited Captain Pressure with making his band sound like “a large strolling organ.”

Kenneth Richard Pressure was born on March 24, 1940, in Queens, the place he grew up, to Alvina and George Pressure. His father was a banker.

Ken bought his musical coaching taking part in trumpet within the Radio Metropolis Music Corridor Orchestra, in Broadway pit bands and within the band of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus.

His fascination with navy music dated to at least one evening in 1959, when he was within the First Military Band, headquartered on Governors Island in New York. His bandmaster instructed the group to play louder than typical, since three British bands have been coming to go to. They started blasting away on “Colonel Bogey on Parade.”

Over the din, Captain Pressure clearly heard a British drum main shout, “By the cen-terr! Fast march!”

Then a band of Royal Marines appeared in pith helmets, every stomp of their marching ft clearly audible.

Captain Pressure was in awe, he later advised The Occasions. He requested a British band director if he had a handbook.

“Handbook?” the person responded. “It’s 300 years of custom!”

Captain Pressure acquired a bandsman’s diploma from the U.S. Naval Faculty of Music in Washington in 1958, a bachelor of music diploma from the Manhattan Faculty of Music in 1964, and a grasp’s diploma from the identical establishment the subsequent 12 months. He wrote his grasp’s thesis on British navy bands.

On one event, within the late Nineteen Nineties, he waged a battle that united his passions for navy music historical past, preservation and instructing.

He had lengthy thought-about “Over There,” George M. Cohan’s ode to the American doughboys of World Warfare I, the second-best patriotic tune of the twentieth century, behind solely Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” Because it occurred, Cohan’s former residence, the place he had written “Over There,” lay only a few minutes away from the Service provider Marine Academy — however the previous mansion was about to be demolished.

Captain Pressure started what Newsday in 1999 known as a “zealous marketing campaign” to have Cohan’s residence designated a landmark.

“In case you tear down the home, you’d be tearing down a part of the soul of America,” he advised The Occasions the identical 12 months.

He had the midshipmen play “Over There” in view of individuals submitting into a neighborhood landmarks fee listening to, and he impressed his college students to point out up at conferences to espouse his trigger.

They saved the property.

“Now I can take my children right here sometime once I come again for homecoming,” Lester J. Snyder, a senior from Illinois and a midshipman trumpeter, advised The Related Press shortly afterward. “I’ll have the ability to share this with the subsequent era, and possibly they may get to know one thing in regards to the feeling of responsibility and honor to your nation.”

Captain Pressure’s three marriages resulted in divorce. He’s survived by a stepson, John Uribe, and two step-grandchildren. He lived on the grounds of the Service provider Marine Academy for many years and lately lived in an condo throughout Lengthy Island Sound in Port Chester, N.Y.

Captain Pressure typically didn’t criticize United States leaders in public. However he did make an exception for Jimmy Carter’s determination in 1977 to abjure the normal pomp of an inauguration parade by strolling alongside Pennsylvania Avenue quite than driving in a limousine.

“I do know he didn’t need ruffles and thrives and ‘Hail to the Chief,’” Captain Pressure advised The Occasions in 2009. “He stated it was too pompous. And the nation didn’t like that. Folks suppose the president deserves particular music.

“Folks like ceremony,” he continued, “and nobody does it higher than a band. Once you lose your ceremony, you lose so much.”